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Amanda L. Hyde, David E. Conroy, Aaron L. Pincus and Nilam Ram

Physical activity is a widely accessible and effective tool for improving well-being. This study aimed to unpack the feel-good effects of free-time physical activity. Multilevel models were applied to repeated measures of daily free-time physical activity and four types of feeling states obtained from 190 undergraduate students. Physical activity was not associated with pleasant–deactivated, unpleasant–activated, or unpleasant–deactivated feelings. People who were more physically active overall had higher pleasant–activated feelings than people who were less physically active, and on days when people were more physically active than was typical for them, they reported higher levels of pleasant–activated feelings. Both the between- and within-person associations remained significant after controlling for day of week, sleep quality, and carryover effects of previous day free-time physical activity and feeling states. Results suggest that both increases in overall levels and acute bouts of free-time physical activity are associated with increases in feelings of pleasant-activation.

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David E. Conroy, Steriani Elavsky, Amanda L. Hyde and Shawna E. Doerksen

The intention-behavior gap has proven to be a vexing problem for theorists and practitioners interested in physical activity. Intention stability is one factor which moderates this gap. This study articulated and tested contrasting views of intention stability as (a) a dynamic characteristic of people that influences assessment error (and therefore the predictive power of intentions) and (b) the product of a dynamic process that unfolds within people over time. Using an ecological momentary assessment design, young adults (N = 30) rated weekly physical activity intentions for 10 weeks and wore pedometers for the first 4 weeks of the study. Substantial within-person variability existed in intentions over both 4- and 10-week intervals, and this variability was not a function of time exclusively. Multilevel modeling revealed that overall intention strength (across weeks) and weekly deviations in intention strength interacted to predict weekday (but not weekend) physical activity. These findings indicate that the person and context interact to selectively couple or decouple intentions from daily physical activity.

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Amanda L. Hyde, Steriani Elavsky, Shawna E. Doerksen and David E. Conroy

Accumulating research indicates that physical activity is motivated by automatic evaluations of physical activity. Little is known about the stability of automatic evaluations or how their dynamics impact physical activity. We tested the measurement invariance and stability of university students’ (N = 164) automatic evaluations of physical activity. In addition, multiple regression and structural equation models with latent interaction variables were used to investigate how changes in automatic evaluations related to change in self-reported physical activity and differences in the level of directly measured physical activity. It was revealed that automatic evaluations had strict measurement invariance and that automatic evaluations have both stable and unstable components. People whose unfavorable automatic evaluations became more favorable over the week showed a larger increase in self-reported physical activity from the previous week than did people whose automatic evaluations remained unfavorable. These results indicated that the dynamics of automatic evaluations and physical activity can be intertwined.