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Zachary Zenko and Panteleimon Ekkekakis

Studies of automatic associations of sedentary behavior, physical activity, and exercise are proliferating, but the lack of information on the psychometric properties of relevant measures is a potential impediment to progress. The purpose of this review was to critically summarize measurement practices in studies examining automatic associations related to sedentary behavior, physical activity, and exercise. Of 37 studies, 27 (73%) did not include a justification for the measure chosen to assess automatic associations. Additional problems have been noted, including the nonreporting of psychometric information (validity, internal consistency, test–retest reliability) and the lack of standardization of procedures (e.g., number, type of stimuli). The authors emphasize the need to select measures based on conceptual arguments and psychometric evidence and to standardize measurement procedures. To facilitate progress, the review concludes with a proposal for conceptually appropriate validation criteria to be used in future studies.

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Zachary Zenko, Panteleimon Ekkekakis, and Dan Ariely

There is a paucity of methods for improving the affective experience of exercise. We tested a novel method based on discoveries about the relation between exercise intensity and pleasure, and lessons from behavioral economics. We examined the effect of reversing the slope of pleasure during exercise from negative to positive on pleasure and enjoyment, remembered pleasure, and forecasted pleasure. Forty-six adults were randomly assigned to a 15-min bout of recumbent cycling of either increasing intensity (0–120% of watts corresponding to the ventilatory threshold) or decreasing intensity (120–0%). Ramping intensity down, thereby eliciting apositive slope of pleasure during exercise, improved postexercise pleasure and enjoyment, remembered pleasure, and forecasted pleasure. The slope of pleasure accounted for 35–46% of the variance in remembered and forecasted pleasure from 15 min to 7 days postexercise. Ramping intensity down makes it possible to combine exposure to vigorous and moderate intensities with a pleasant affective experience.

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Jasmin C. Hutchinson, Zachary Zenko, Sam Santich, and Paul C. Dalton

This study was designed to test the effect of an increasing- (UP) or decreasing-intensity (DOWN) resistance-training (RT) protocol on the pleasure and enjoyment of RT. The participants (N = 40; mean age = 35.0 ± 9.2 years) completed two RT sessions comprising 3 × 10 repetitions of six exercises. In the UP condition, load progressively increased from 55% to 75% of 1-repetition maximum, while in the DOWN condition, this pattern was reversed (i.e., 75–55% 1-repetition maximum). The DOWN condition resulted in more overall pleasure compared with UP and a slope of increasing pleasure, while the UP condition resulted in decreasing pleasure. Enjoyment of RT, postexercise pleasure, and remembered pleasure were all significantly greater for DOWN compared with UP (all ps > .01). These findings suggest that decreasing RT intensity throughout an exercise bout can elicit a positive slope of pleasure and enhance affective evaluations of exercise.