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Anxiety Reduction Following Exercise: Methodological Artifact or “Real” Phenomenon?

Steven J. Petruzzello

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Edited by Steven J. Petruzzello

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Tie Effects of Performance Feedback on Female Self-Confidence

Steven J. Petruzzello and Charles B. Corbin

Research has suggested that females lack self-confidence in their abilities to perform in certain physical activity situations. This "situational vulnerability," however, is not characteristic of all age levels. The present research was designed to determine if situational vulnerability was characteristic of college-age females and to determine if postperformance feedback would enhance self-confidence. Further, the research was designed to determine if feedback-enhanced self-confidence would generalize to a different task. In Study 1, males and females (N=381) rated the gender appropriateness of several motor tasks and made confidence ratings. In Study 2, high and low confidence college-age women (N=69) were tested to determine if feedback increased confidence on a gender-neutral task.. Subjects were then tested for confidence after performing a different task to determine if feedback-produced confidence differences were enduring. The results indicated that both tasks were rated as gender-neutral, but college-age females lacked confidence when compared to males. Feedback did improve confidence for low confidence females, but this feedback-enhanced self-confidence did not generalize to a different motor task. It is suggested that a fourth factor, namely lack of experience, be added to Lenney's (1977) situational vulnerability hypothesis as a factor likely to affect female self-confidence.

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The Kids Are Alright—Right? Physical Activity and Mental Health in College Students

Steven J. Petruzzello and Allyson G. Box

The status of physical activity in higher education has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. In this paper, we aim to (a) provide a brief history of physical activity on campus; (b) describe how that activity has changed from a requirement to an elective; (c) illustrate how mental health (particularly stress, anxiety, and depression) has changed in college students over the past few decades; and (d) describe the relationships between physical activity and mental health, particularly in college students. The paper culminates with recommendations for how colleges and universities might facilitate better student mental health through physical activity. There is room to improve the physical activity and mental health of college students, realigning higher education with the promotion of mens sana in corpore sano.

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Frontal Asymmetry, Dispositional Affect, and Physical Activity in Older Adults

Eric E. Hall and Steven J. Petruzzello

Physical activity has been consistently linked to better mental health—greater positive affect and life satisfaction, less negative affect, anxiety, and depression (Petruzzello et al., 1991; McAuley & Rudolph, 1995). Brain activation patterns have been linked to dispositional affect: greater relative left anterior hemisphere activation relates to positive affect, and greater relative right anterior activation relates to negative affect (Davidson, 1992). In this study, measures of resting EEG frontal asymmetry, dispositional affect, and physical activity were obtained from 41 older adults. Frontal asymmetry significantly predicted positive affect. In the high active group (n = 21), frontal asymmetry significantly predicted affective valence and satisfaction with life; in the low active group (n = 20), it significantly predicted negative affect. Physical activity was also significantly related to better dispositional affect. These findings suggest that the relationship between frontal brain activity and dispositional affect is influenced by physical activity in older adults.

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Barriers to Physical Activity in a Mass Transit Population: A Qualitative Study

Bhibha M. Das and Steven J. Petruzzello


The physical inactivity epidemic continues be one of the greatest public health challenges in contemporary society in the United States. The transportation industry is at greater risk of physical inactivity, compared with individuals in other sectors of the workforce. The aim of this study was to use the Nominal Group Technique, a focus group technique, to examine mass transit employees’ perceptions of the barriers to physical activity at their worksite.


Three focus groups (n = 31) were conducted to examine mass transit employees’ perceptions of barriers to physical activity at the worksite.


Salient barriers included (1) changing work schedules, (2) poor weather conditions, and (3) lack of scheduled and timely breaks.


Findings were consistent with previous research demonstrating shift work, poor weather, and lack of breaks can negatively impact mass transit employees’ ability to be physically active. Although physical activity barriers for this population have been consistent for the last 20 years, public health practice and policy have not changed to address these barriers. Future studies should include conducing focus groups stratified by job classification (eg, operators, maintenance, and clerical) along with implementing and evaluating worksite-based physical activity interventions and policy changes.

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Minding the Body: The Evolution of the Psychology of Physical Activity

Steven J. Petruzzello

This essay, written as part of an invited address for the National Academy of Kinesiology’s 92nd annual meeting, with the overarching theme being “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, Embracing the Future,” provides an assessment of the evolution of sport and exercise psychology, or what I refer to as the psychology of physical activity. Specifically, I examine the role that psychology of physical activity has played since the academy was established, with particular attention to the contributions of academy fellows. I then provide my reflections on the current status and critical issues for the psychology of physical activity. Finally, I offer some thoughts on future directions for the subdiscipline in the broader field of kinesiology and some thoughts on how the academy could advance the academic discipline of kinesiology.

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Some like It Vigorous: Measuring Individual Differences in the Preference for and Tolerance of Exercise Intensity

Panteleimon Ekkekakis, Eric E. Hall, and Steven J. Petruzzello

Individuals differ in the intensity of exercise they prefer and the intensity they can tolerate. The purpose of this project was to develop a measure of individual differences in the preference for and tolerance of exercise intensity. The steps involved in (a) item generation and face validation, (b) exploratory factor analysis and item selection, (c) structural validation, (d) examination of the internal consistency and test-retest reliability, (e) concurrent validation, and (f) construct validation are described. The Preference for and Tolerance of the Intensity of Exercise Questionnaire (PRETIE-Q) is a 16-item, 2-factor measure that exhibits acceptable psychometric properties and can be used in research aimed at understanding individual differences in responses to exercise and thus the psychological processes involved in the public health problem of exercise dropout.

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Exercise and Anxiety Reduction: Examination of Temperature as an Explanation for Affective Change

Steven J. Petruzzello, Daniel M. Landers, and Walter Salazar

Although body temperature elevation resulting from exercise has been implicated as one mechanism underlying anxiety reduction, no published evidence exists which establishes the relationship between body temperature and anxiety with respect to exercise. To examine this relationship, 20 males ran for 30 min at 75% VO2max in three temperature-manipulated conditions: (a) Normal—normal temperature change associated with exercise; (b) Cooler—attenuation of normal rise in temperature; and (c) Warmer—accentuation of normal rise in temperature. Significant temperature differences resulted from the three conditions. Although anxiety was reduced following exercise in all conditions and relationships between changes in temperature and anxiety were strong (rs>.75), manipulations of temperature accounted for only a small percentage of the variance in anxiety. It appears that elevated body temperature may not be necessary for exercise-related anxiety reduction to occur. Other variables which might have a greater effect on anxiety reduction (e.g., brain temperature, blood pressure) need to be examined.

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Measuring State Anxiety in the Context of Acute Exercise Using the State Anxiety Inventory: An Attempt to Resolve the Brouhaha

Panteleimon Ekkekakis, Eric E. Hall, and Steven J. Petruzzello

Two studies were conducted to examine the internal consistency and validity of the state anxiety subscale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (SAI) in the context of acute exercise. SAI responses typically found in the exercise literature were replicated. Analysis at the item level revealed divergent response patterns, confounding the total SAI score. During moderate and immediately after vigorous exercise, scores on items referring to cognitive antecedents of anxiety decreased, whereas scores on items assessing perceived activation increased. Indices of internal showed exercise-associated decreases. A principal-components analysis of responses immediately postexercise revealed a multidimensional structure, distinguishing “cognitive” and “activation” items. By failing to discern exercise-induced and anxiety-related increases in activation from anxiety-antecedent appraisals, the SAI exhibits compromised internal consistency and validity in the context of acute exercise.