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David M. Williams, Shira Dunsiger, Jessica A. Emerson, Chad J. Gwaltney, Peter M. Monti and Robert Miranda Jr.

Affective response to exercise may mediate the effects of self-paced exercise on exercise adherence. Fiftynine low-active (exercise <60 min/week), overweight (body mass index: 25.0–39.9) adults (ages 18–65) were randomly assigned to self-paced (but not to exceed 76% maximum heart rate) or prescribed moderate intensity exercise (64–76% maximum heart rate) in the context of otherwise identical 6-month print-based exercise promotion programs. Frequency and duration of exercise sessions and affective responses (good/bad) to exercise were assessed via ecological momentary assessment throughout the 6-month program. A regression-based mediation model was used to estimate (a) effects of experimental condition on affective response to exercise (path a = 0.20, SE = 0.28, f 2 = 0.02); (b) effects of affective response on duration/latency of the next exercise session (path b = 0.47, SE = 0.25, f 2 = 0.04); and (c) indirect effects of experimental condition on exercise outcomes via affective response (path ab = 0.11, SE = 0.06, f 2 = 0.10). Results provide modest preliminary support for a mediational pathway linking self-paced exercise, affective response, and exercise adherence.

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Kate E. Sheppard and Gaynor Parfitt

This study examined the patterning of acute affective responses to prescribed and self-selected exercise intensities in a young adolescent population. Twenty-two young adolescents (13.3 ± .33 years) completed a maximal exercise test to identify ventilatory threshold (VT). Participants then completed two prescribed intensities (one set above and one below the VT) and a self-selected intensity. Pre-, during, and postexercise affective valence was measured. Results revealed that during exercise, affective valence assessed by the Feeling Scale (FS) remained positive in the self-selected and low-intensity conditions but declined in the high-intensity condition. Postexercise FS responses rebounded to preexercise levels, eradicating divergent trends that occurred during exercise.

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Adrian Taylor, Magdalena Katomeri and Michael Ussher

The study examined whether walking can mimic the effects of nicotine during temporary abstinence, by eliciting changes in mood and affect and by reducing cravings. In a randomized crossover design, 15 participants did a self-paced 1-mile walk or sat passively on separate days. A repeated-measures ANOVA revealed a significant reduction in desire to smoke during and for up to 20 min following exercise. Further MANOVAs and univariate ANOVAs revealed significant interaction effects for time-by-condition for tension, and affective valence and activation. Walking reduced tension and increased affective valence and activation during and up to 20 min after exercise, but increased activation only at the end of exercise. ANCOVAs revealed that exercise-induced reductions in cravings were mediated through reduced tension. Walking should be recommended for reducing cravings, but further research is needed to understand whether the arousing properties of exercise can help manage cravings.

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Charlotte C. Benjamin, Alex Rowlands and Gaynor Parfitt

Past studies have shown the patterning of affective responses during a graded exercise test (GXT) in adult and male adolescent populations, but none have explored the patterns in adolescent girls or younger children. This study explored the patterning of affective responses during a GXT in adolescents and younger children. Forty-nine children (21 male and 28 female) aged between 8–14 years (10.8 ± 1.8 years) completed a GXT. Ventilatory threshold (VT) was identified. At the end of each incremental step, participants reported affective valence. Results revealed that affective valence assessed by the Feeling Scale (FS) significantly declined from the onset of exercise until the point of VT in the younger children, but remained relatively stable in the adolescents. Exercise above the VT brought about significant declines in affective valence regardless of age or sex, but the decrease was significantly greater in adolescents. Results suggest it may be preferable to prescribe lower exercise intensities (below VT) for children, compared with adolescents, to ensure a positive affective response.

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Lisa M. Van Landuyt, Panteleimon Ekkekakis, Eric E. Hall and Steven J. Petruzzello

Traditional conceptions of the exercise–affect relationship postulate that moderate-intensity exercise leads to positive affective changes in all or most individuals, and it can, therefore, be prescribed for all individuals involved in exercise programs. This study investigated whether this assumption is true, not only at the level of group averages but also at the level of individuals. Affect was assessed before, during, and after a session of moderate-intensity cycle ergometry using a dimensional conceptualization of affect. Examination of individual responses revealed a diversity of patterns that was masked by aggregate-based analyses. Mean ratings of affective valence were shown to remain stable during exercise, but in actuality almost half of the individuals experienced progressive improvement, whereas the other half experienced progressive deterioration. The diversity of individual affective responses must be taken into account in formulating conceptual models of the exercise–affect relationship and deriving public health physical activity recommendations.

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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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Margaret Schneider, Andrea Dunn and Daniel Cooper

Many adolescents do not meet public health recommendations for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). In studies of variables influencing adolescent MVPA, one that has been understudied is the affective response to exercise. We hypothesized that adolescents with a more positive affective response to acute exercise would be more active. Adolescents (N = 124; 46% male) completed two 30-min exercise tasks (above and below the ventilatory threshold [VT]), and wore ActiGraph accelerometers for 6.5 ± 0.7 days. Affective valence was assessed before, during, and after each task. A more positive affective response during exercise below the VT was associated with greater participation in MVPA (p < .05). The results are consistent with the hypothesis that individuals who have a more positive affective response to exercise will engage in more MVPA. To promote greater participation in MVPA among adolescents, programs should be designed to facilitate a positive affective experience during exercise.

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Kate Stych and Gaynor Parfitt

Adolescence provides a significant opportunity to influence attitudes toward activity. It has been proposed that affective responses are the first link in the hypothesized exercise intensity-affect-adherence chain. The aim of this study was to explore young low-active adolescents’ affective responses to different exercise intensities using quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Participants completed 15 min of exercise at four exercise intensities: three set in relation to the participants’ ventilatory threshold (above, at, and below) and one self-selected. Affective valence was measured before, during, and after exercise, and participants were interviewed about their responses. Patterns in affective responses in quantitative data support tenets of the dual-mode theory. Qualitative data were presented as four narrative stories, and dominant themes associated with affective responses were identified. Consideration of individual preferences in the prescription of exercise, prescribing exercise set below the ventilatory threshold, or encouraging adolescents to self-select exercise intensity could positively influence adolescents’ exercise experiences.

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Leighton Jones, Costas I. Karageorghis and Panteleimon Ekkekakis

Theories suggest that external stimuli (e.g., auditory and visual) may be rendered ineffective in modulating attention when exercise intensity is high. We examined the effects of music and parkland video footage on psychological measures during and after stationary cycling at two intensities: 10% of maximal capacity below ventilatory threshold and 5% above. Participants (N = 34) were exposed to four conditions at each intensity: music only, video only, music and video, and control. Analyses revealed main effects of condition and exercise intensity for affective valence and perceived activation (p < .001), state attention (p < .05), and exercise enjoyment (p < .001). The music-only and music-and-video conditions led to the highest valence and enjoyment scores during and after exercise regardless of intensity. Findings indicate that attentional manipulations can exert a salient influence on affect and enjoyment even at intensities slightly above ventilatory threshold.

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Elaine A. Rose and Gaynor Parfitt

Using a mixed-method approach, the aim of this study was to explore affective responses to exercise at intensities below-lactate threshold (LT), at-LT, and above-LT to test the proposals of the dual-mode model (Ekkekakis, 2003). These intensities were also contrasted with a self-selected intensity. Further, the factors that influenced the generation of those affective responses were explored. Nineteen women completed 20 min of treadmill exercise at each intensity. Affective valence and activation were measured, pre-, during and postexercise. Afterward, participants were asked why they had felt the way they had during each intensity. Results supported hypotheses showing affect to be least positive during the above-LT condition and most positive during the self-selected and below-LT conditions. Individual differences were greatest in the below-LT and at-LT conditions. Qualitative results showed that factors relating to perceptions of ability, interpretation of exercise intensity, exercise outcomes, focus of concentration, and perceptions of control influenced the affective response and contributed to the individual differences shown in the quantitative data.