This study examined the psychological responses to an acute bout of aerobic exercise in sedentary older and younger adults. Eighteen young (mean age 24 years) and 15 older adults (mean age 64 years) completed a 20-min bout of stationary cycling at 65% of VO2peak. Affective responses were assessed before, during, and immediately after exercise. Participants’ exercise self-efficacy beliefs were assessed before and immediately after exercise. Both groups reported reduced pleasant feeling states and self-efficacy and increased physical exhaustion in response to acute exercise. Older adults also demonstrated a significant decrease in revitalization during and after cycling. Correlation analyses revealed that self-efficacy was related to feelings of fatigue during exercise and postexercise feelings of energy and fatigue. Both groups reported negative shifts in affect and self-efficacy during and 5 min after cycling. Acute affective and self-efficacy responses might influence one’s motivation to adopt and maintain regular physical activity. The relationship between these acute responses and physical activity behavior across the life span warrants future inquiry.
Focht is with the Div. of Health Behavior and Health Promotion, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210. Knapp, Gavin, Raedeke, and Hickner are with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Sciences, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858.