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Brian C. Focht and Heather A. Hausenblas

This study examined the state anxiety (SA) and perceived arousal (AS) responses to self-selected or imposed-intensity bouts of acute exercise performed in different environments by 30 women with high social physique anxiety (SPA). Participants were randomly assigned to a self-selected or imposed-intensity choice group and subsequently (a) exercised in a naturalistic environment, (b) exercised in a laboratory environment, and (c) rested quietly. Assessments of SA and AS were obtained before, during, and following each condition and data were analyzed via separate 2 × 3 × 6 (Intensity Choice × Condition × Time) ANOVAs with repeated measures on the Condition and Time factors. Results revealed that AS increased during both exercise conditions. Conversely, SA was elevated only during the naturalistic exercise condition, and item-level analysis revealed that this increase was composed of both activation and apprehension/worry inventory items. Although SA was reduced 5 min following both exercise conditions, the anxiolytic effect only persisted following the laboratory condition. No significant differences in SA or AS were observed between the two groups. It is concluded that environmentally-induced perceived evaluative threat is associated with an increase in SA during exercise and may attenuate postexercise anxiolysis in women with high SPA.

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Andreas Schwerdtfeger, Ragna Eberhardt, Andrea Chmitorz and Eva Schaller

There is converging evidence that physical activity influences affective states. It has been found that aerobic exercise programs can significantly diminish negative affect. Moreover, among healthy individuals, moderate levels of physical activity seem to increase energetic arousal and positive affect. However, the predictive utility of affective states for bodily movement has rarely been investigated. In this study, we examined whether momentarily assessed affect is associated with bodily movement in everyday life. Using a previously published data set (Schwerdtfeger, Eberhardt, & Chmitorz, 2008), we reanalyzed 12-hr ecological momentary assessment (EMA) data from 124 healthy volunteers. Electronic momentary positive-activated affect (EMA-PAA) and negative affect (EMA-NA) were assessed via handheld computers, and bodily movement was recorded via accelerosensors. Generalized linear mixed models were calculated. Results indicated that EMA-PAA increases were accompanied by bodily movement increases of varying intensity. EMA-NA was also positively associated with increases in certain kinds of bodily movement. In light of previous research, this finding suggests that affect and bodily movement may have circular effects on each other.

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Veronika Leichtfried, Friedrich Hanser, Andrea Griesmacher, Markus Canazei and Wolfgang Schobersberger

Context:

Demands on concentrative and cognitive performance are high in sport shooting and vary in a circadian pattern, aroused by internal and external stimuli. The most prominent external stimulus is light. Bright light (BL) has been shown to have a certain impact on cognitive and physical performance.

Purpose:

To evaluate the impact of a single half hour of BL exposure in the morning hours on physical and cognitive performance in 15 sport shooters. In addition, courses of sulfateoxymelatonin (aMT6s), tryptophan (TRP), and kynurenine (KYN) were monitored.

Methods:

In a crossover design, 15 sport shooters were exposed to 30 min of BL and dim light (DL) in the early-morning hours. Shooting performance, balance, visuomotor performance, and courses of aMT6s, TRP, and KYN were evaluated.

Results:

Shooting performance was 365.4 (349.7–381.0) and 368.5 (353.9–383.1), identical in both light setups. Numbers of right reactions (sustained attention) and deviations from the horizontal plane (balance-related measure) were higher after BL. TRP concentrations decreased from 77.5 (73.5–81.4) to 66.9 (60.7–67.0) in the DL setup only.

Conclusions:

The 2 light conditions generated heterogeneous visuomotor and physiological effects in sport shooters. The authors therefore suggest that a single half hour of BL exposure is effective in improving cognitive aspects of performance, but not physical performance. Further research is needed to evaluate BL’s impact on biochemical parameters.

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Deborah L. Feltz

This investigation contrasted path analysis models for 40 males and 40 females based on the predictions of Feltz's (1982) respecification model of Ban-dura' s (1977) self-efficacy theory in the approach/avoidance of two trials of a modified back dive. The hypothesized (respecified) model proposed that previous related experiences, self-efficacy, and heart rate predicted initial back-diving performance and that previous performance and self-efficacy predicted subsequent performance. The hypothesized model also proposed that self-efficacy mediates the influence of autonomic perception of arousal on performance. Results indicated that males had lower state anxiety and autonomic perception scores than females on the first trial. No differences occurred for back-diving performance, self-efficacy, or heart rate. Path analysis results indicated that the hypothesized model fit the data better for females than for males, though it left much unexplained variance for both males and females. Females showed a reciprocal relationship between self-efficacy and performance, whereas males showed a reciprocal relationship between autonomic perception and heart rate. Previous performance and self-efficacy were strong predictors of subsequent performance for both males and females.

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Christian Collet, Aymeric Guillot, Olivier Bolliet and André Dittmar

Purpose:

To examine the preparation phase for the snatch lift in Olympic weight lifting. Two behavioral periods were studied, each corresponding to specific mental processes: a stance in front of the bar and placement of hands on the bar. Each period was hypothesized to elicit different responses of autonomic-nervous-system activity.

Methods:

Twelve elite male subjects completed 12 lifts at 90% to 95% of their best grade after warm-up (80% of their best grade). Because peripheral autonomic-nervous-system activity is related to arousal and activation variation, 6 variables were continuously recorded: electrodermal (skin resistance and potential), thermovascular (skin temperature and skin blood flow), and cardiorespiratory (heart rate and respiratory frequency).

Results:

Responses (ie, phasic activities) were evident during the fi rst behavioral period. Decrease in heart rate (mean = 19 beats/min) or in respiratory frequency (mean = 8.6 beats/min) was related to attention processes. These responses were weaker (−0.16°C vs −0.25°C in skin temperature) and shorter (2.7 seconds vs 4.3 seconds in skin resistance) than those recorded during execution. The second phase showed variations in basal levels (mean increase in heart rate of 25%), related to increase in activation, thus attesting the muscle system’s process of preparation for effort.

Conclusion:

Weight lifters separated the preparation phase into 2 stages that were closely matched by different physiological activities. Weight lifting requires participants to share their mental resources among the 2 demanding concentration phases by first focusing their attention on the execution and then mobilizing energizing resources.

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W. Jack Rejeski, Charles J. Hardy and Janet Shaw

This investigation examined the possible psychometric confounds of interpreting exercise-induced symptom reporting as changes in stete anxiety. Thirty male subjects exercised on a motor-driven treadmill for 15 min at 75% of maximum heart rate reserve. Prior to» during, and following the exercise, subjects responded to short forms of Spielberger's State Anxiety Inventory (SAI), Thayer's Aetivation-Deactivation Adjective Check List (AD-ACL), Borg's Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale» and a measure of affect. Preliminary results indicated that following 10 min of recovery from exercise» SAI scores were lower than baseline responses. Upon former analysis of individual SAI items, however, it was evident mat changes occurring in total SAI scores as a result of exercise were strongly influenced by changes in energetic arousal and general deactivation. This conclusion was supported by data from the AD-ACL as well as responses to postexperimental interviews. These findings cal into question the construct validity of the SAI and related state measures (e.g., the Profile of Mood States» or POMS) when used in conjunction with acute bouts of vigorous physical activity.

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Brad D. Hatfield, Daniel M. Landers and William J. Ray

In the initial phase of the study (Study 1) electrocortical arousal (EEG alpha activity) was assessed at four standardized sites (T3, T4, 01, and 02) from male and female (N = 17) international-caliber marksmen during rifle shooting performance. The task consisted of the execution of 40 shots at a conventional indoor target from the standing position. During each shot preparation, a significant increase in left temporal and occipital alpha activity was demonstrated, while the right hemispheric activity remained constant. Hemispheric laterality ratios (T4:T3) evidenced a significant shift toward right-brain dominance as the time to trigger pull approached. In the second phase of the study (Study 2) male and female (N = 15) marksmen performed the same shooting task and, additionally, the resultant EEG performance patterns were contrasted to those observed during the mental processing of sterotyped left-brain and right-brain mental tasks. Observed EEG patterns, that is, temporal ratios, during shooting replicated the results of Study 1, and furthermore, indicated that the laterality indices derived during shooting exhibited a more pronounced shift to right-brain processing than did those derived during right-brain mental task performance. The EEG data obtained during the comparative mental task states were used to interpret the shooting performance EEG findings in terms of the implications from bilateral or split-brain cognitive process theory.

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Douglas Potter and Denis Keeling

The effects of exercise and circadian rhythms on memory function were explored in a group of shift workers (mean age 32 yrs). A variant of the Auditory-Verbal Learning Test was used to test memory for word lists at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30, 3:30, and 6:30 p.m. in a repeated-measures design. Without exercise there was clear evidence of a circadian rhythm in memory performance, with peak performance occurring at 12:30 and poorest performance at 3:30. A brisk 10-min walk followed by a 15- to 30-min recovery period resulted in significant improvement in memory recall at all time periods except 12:30. The results of the AVLT task suggest an improvement in both working memory and long-term memory performance. Rhythmic changes in serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine levels all affect cortical arousal and cognitive function. Exercise may have resulted in altered levels of these neurotransmitters, increased glucose, oxygen, or nutrient levels, or from temporary changes in growth hormone or brain-derived neurotropic factor levels resulting in increased synaptogenesis and neurogenesis. The physiological basis of this temporary improvement in memory remains to be determined, but this simple behavioral intervention may have widespread application in improving memory function in all sections of the population including children and the elderly.

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Robert N. Singer

To execute flawlessly and automatically in sports competition is the goal of any serious athlete. Automaticity suggests nonconscious attention to the act itself while executing, and not being aware of and therefore vulnerable to external and internal distractors. Self-paced sports and events in sports allow time for preparing to perform in a stable and predictable situation. More recently, cognitive, behavioral, and psychophysiological measures associated with developing and realizing proficiency in such acts have become increasingly identified. Many themes associated with these topics appear in the scholarly literature: conscious vs. nonconscious, controlled vs. automatic, voluntary vs. involuntary, explicit vs. implicit, systematic vs. heuristic, willed vs. nonwilled, aware vs. unaware, internal vs. externally oriented, and intentional vs. unintentional behaviors. Implications are being made about ways to influence the learning process by modeling expertise behaviors, as well as enhancing the performance of elite athletes. Of particular importance is the immediate preperformance and during-performance routine that serves as a mechanism for self-regulation of arousal level, thoughts, performance expectancy, and attentional focus.

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Roy J. Shephard

Advocates of quality daily physical education for prepubescent children frequently encounter the argument that such initiatives will harm academic progress. The impact of daily physical education upon the academic performance of primary school students is thus reviewed with particular reference to studies conducted in Vanves (France), Australia, and Trois Rivières (Québec). When a substantial proportion of curricular time (14–26%) is allocated to physical activity, learning seems to proceed more rapidly per unit of classroom time, so that academic performance matches, and may even exceed, that of control students. Children receiving additional physical education show an acceleration of their psychomotor development, and this could provide a mechanism for accelerated learning of academic skills. Other potential mechanisms include increased cerebral blood flow, greater arousal, changes in hormone levels, enhanced nutrient intake, changes in body build, and increased self esteem. Academic teachers may also favor the enhanced physical education program, creating “halo” effects, and the resulting release time may enhance their academic teaching. Irrespective of mechanisms, the implication for public policy is that daily required physical education can be introduced when a child enters primary school without compromising academic development. Given the importance of establishing positive health habits from an early age, school boards should be encouraged to follow a policy of required daily physical activity in primary schools. Evidence of specific benefit in students with learning disabilities remains less convincing.