In this paper, milestones of psychological contributions to the study of exercise and fitness are summarized, the results of an archival study of empirical research published in 10 periodicals since 1990 are presented, and challenges facing researchers in this area are discussed. Psychological studies on exercise and fitness began to emerge in significant numbers in the late 1970s and have frequently been conceptualized with health outcomes in mind. Current research is published in almost equal numbers in physical activity and health periodicals, but researchers based in academic units related to physical activity publish less frequently in health-related journals. Aerobic exercise is studied more often than other types of exercise, and exercise adherence and the role of exercise for mental health are studied most frequently. Some challenges facing researchers include developing effective publication strategies, engaging in advocacy for the relevance of exercise and fitness, and bridging the gap between research and practice.
Lise Gauvin and John C. Spence are with the Department of Exercise Science at Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, PQ H4B 1R6, Canada.