The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between reported physical activity and optimism. A secondary purpose was to determine whether physical self-efficacy and trait anxiety mediate the relationship between exercise and optimism. Participants (N = 188) were administered a battery of questionnaires assessing optimism, pessimism, physical self-efficacy, trait anxiety, and extent and nature of involvement in physical activity. Demographic information was also collected. The results indicated that high active individuals were significantly more optimistic and less pessimistic than inactive/low active individuals. In addition, the moderately and high active groups reported significantly higher physical self-efficacy and lower trait anxiety than the inactive/low active group. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that trait anxiety and physical self-efficacy accounted for significant unique variation in optimism. The findings are consistent with previous research indicating that optimists engage in exercise significantly more often than pessimists.
The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, Freer Hall, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801.