The Role of Psychological Flexibility in Physical Activity Maintenance

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Otago
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the constituent processes of psychological flexibility (contact with the present moment, acceptance, cognitive defusion, self-as-context, value clarification, and committed action) in supporting physical activity (PA) maintenance. A total of 9 physically active participants were interviewed using the Scanlan collaborative interview method. Participants were asked to discuss their strategies for maintaining PA, before being asked whether the 6 psychological flexibility processes played a role in their PA behavior. Data were analyzed using a combination of deductive and inductive thematic analyses. Acceptance, cognitive defusion, value clarification, and committed action played a role in participants’ experiences of maintaining PA. Contact with the present moment and self-as-context were reported to be relatively unimportant to participants’ PA maintenance. Cultivating acceptance of PA-related discomfort, defusion from unhelpful thoughts, clarifying the value of PA, and encouraging commitment to PA would likely benefit individuals’ efforts to maintain PA.

The authors are with the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Jenkins (matthew.jenkins@otago.ac.nz) is corresponding author.
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