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Jessica Ross and Peter D. MacIntyre

Flow is a desirable state of consciousness and absorption in an optimally challenging activity. Prior research has investigated individual differences in flow. The present study investigates flow by contrasting physical versus mental activities, using a mixed-methods, sequential explanatory design. The sample from the quantitative phase included 205 undergraduate university students assessed on measures of personality, difficulties in emotion regulation, and flow. The big-five traits intellect and conscientiousness, as well as the emotion regulation subscale “lack of emotional clarity” predicted flow during mental activities, but unexpectedly no variables significantly predicted physical flow activities. The second phase used semi-structured interviews with 10 participants. Analyses of the interviews helped further explain the statistical findings, revealing four main themes: role of stress, source of guilt, presence of others, and satisfaction and fulfillment. We conclude that flow is especially relevant in physical activities which have advantages over mental activities in opportunities to experience flow.

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Christine M. Hoehner, Ross C. Brownson, Diana Allen, James Gramann, Timothy K. Behrens, Myron F. Floyd, Jessica Leahy, Joseph B. Liddle, David Smaldone, Diara D. Spain, Daniel R. Tardona, Nicholas P. Ruthmann, Rachel L. Seiler and Byron W. Yount

Background:

We synthesized the results of 7 National Park Service pilot interventions designed to increase awareness of the health benefits from participation in recreation at national parks and to increase physical activity by park visitors.

Methods:

A content analysis was conducted of the final evaluation reports of the 7 participating parks. Pooled data were also analyzed from a standardized trail-intercept survey administered in 3 parks.

Results:

The theme of new and diverse partnerships was the most common benefit reported across the 7 sites. The 2 parks that focused on youth showed evidence of an increase in awareness of the benefits of physical activity. Many of the other sites found high levels of awareness at baseline (approaching 90%), suggesting little room for improvement. Five of the 7 projects showed evidence of an increase in physical activity that was associated with the intervention activities. Multivariate analyses suggested that the media exposure contributed to a small but significant increase in awareness of the importance of physical activity (6%) and number of active visits (7%).

Conclusions:

Enhancements and replication of these programs represents a promising opportunity for improving partnerships between public health and recreation to increase physical activity.