Self-Regulation and Implicit Attitudes Toward Physical Activity Influence Exercise Behavior

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Dual-process models of health behavior posit that implicit and explicit attitudes independently drive healthy behaviors. Prior evidence indicates that implicit attitudes may be related to weekly physical activity (PA) levels, but the extent to which self-regulation attenuates this link remains unknown. This study examined the associations between implicit attitudes and self-reported PA during leisure time among 150 highly active young adults and evaluated the extent to which effortful control (one aspect of self-regulation) moderated this relationship. Results indicated that implicit attitudes toward exercise were unrelated to average workout length among individuals with higher effortful control. However, those with lower effortful control and more negative implicit attitudes reported shorter average exercise sessions compared with those with more positive attitudes. Implicit and explicit attitudes were unrelated to total weekly PA. A combination of poorer self-regulation and negative implicit attitudes may leave individuals vulnerable to mental and physical health consequences of low PA.

Avelina C. Padin, Charles F. Emery, Michael Vasey, and Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser are with the Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. Avelina C. Padin, Charles F. Emery, and Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser are also with the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH. Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser is also with the Department of Psychiatry, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH.

Address author correspondence to Avelina C. Padin at Avelina.Padin@osumc.edu.
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