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Maggie Evans, Kelly J. Rohan, Jonah Meyerhoff, Richard J. Norton, and Jeremy S. Sibold

Mood deterioration in response to exercise cessation is well documented, but moderators of this effect remain unknown. This study tested the hypothesis that physically active individuals with higher levels of cognitive vulnerability (i.e., tendencies toward negative thought content and processes in response to stress or negative mood states) are at greater risk for increased anxiety and depressive symptoms when undergoing exercise cessation. Community adults meeting recommended physical activity guidelines (N = 36) participated in a 4-week prospective, longitudinal study with 2 weeks each of maintained exercise and exercise cessation. Cognitive vulnerability measures included dysfunctional attitudes, brooding rumination, and cognitive reactivity (i.e., change in dysfunctional attitudes over a dysphoric mood induction). Anxiety and depression symptoms increased during exercise cessation. Brooding emerged as a risk factor for increases in tension scores on the Profile of Mood States–Brief during exercise cessation. Future studies should explore brooding as a mediator (i.e., potential mechanism) of exercise-induced mood deterioration.

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Maggie Evans, Kelly J. Rohan, Alan Howard, Sheau-Yan Ho, Patricia M. Dubbert, and Barbara A. Stetson

This prospective, naturalistic study examined the relationship between different exercise dimensions (i.e., frequency, intensity, duration, and omissions of planned exercise) and psychological well-being among community adults participating in self-selected exercise. For at least 2 months, participants kept daily exercise diaries and provided weekly ratings for depressed mood, anxiety, sleep quality, concentration, alertness, confidence, weight satisfaction, physical fitness, appetite, satisfaction with physical shape and appearance, and stress experienced. Linear mixed model analyses revealed positive associations between exercise frequency, intensity, and duration across a broad range of psychological and mood-related outcomes. In contrast, omissions of planned exercise were associated with a global and detrimental effect on psychological health. A main effect of age and a moderating effect of gender was observed in many of the models. This work contributes to literature on exercise dimensions and psychological constructs and informs future research that is needed to develop physical activity recommendations for improved mental health.