Category: Health Psychology / Behavioral Medicine - Adult


Peddling Toward a Better Mood: Effects of Low-Intensity Exercise on Induced Negative Affect

Saturday, November 18
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom O & P, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Exercise | Emotion Regulation | Mood
Presentation Type: Symposium

The mental health benefits of exercise have been well-documented with studies suggesting physical activity can lead to immediate short-term improvements in affect and improved resilience to stress, as well as long-term improvements in overall mood (see Asmundson et al., 2013; Ekkekakis et al., 2008). However, researchers have only begun to investigate the effects of exercise on in-the-moment emotion (Mata et al., 2012; Sheilds et al., 2015). Questions remain regarding how acute exercise may serve to regulate instances of negative affect as well as when exercise should be applied to maximize benefit. In the current study, 90 participants (target N = 120) completed negative mood induction procedures after randomization to one of two movement-related emotional regulation (ER) conditions: 1) low-intensity exercise (using an exercise bike), OR 2) use of a worry stone (distraction technique). The timing at which each of these strategies was applied was also randomly assigned and encompassed three conditions, 1) use of emotion regulation condition (light exercise OR worry stone) prior to negative affect induction, 2) use of strategy during induction, 3) use of strategy following induction. Explicit affect, arousal, sadness, and physical exertion were rated throughout. In a mixed ANOVA model examining ratings of negative affect across the three study time points with ER strategy and timing of ER strategy entered as between subjects factors, there was a significant interaction between time and ER strategy (F (2, 174) = 3.77, p < .05) with examination of simple effects, covarying baseline negative affect, revealing that those randomized to the low-intensity exercise condition reported lower ratings of negative affect during the mood induction (M = 3.05, SD = 1.62) than those randomized to the worry stone (M = 3.64, SD = 1.70; F (1, 90) = 3.68, p = .057) at a trend level. Likewise, an identical model examining positive affect as the dependent variable, also revealed a significant interaction between ER strategy and time (F (2, 174) = 3.31, p < .05) with examination of simple effects again revealing an advantage for the low-intensity exercise condition such that positive affect during induction was higher in this group (M=4.05, SD = 1.33) than those randomized to the worry stone (M = 3.72, SD = 1.51; F (1, 90) = 4.49, p < .05). Results revealed no differential effects for implementing the ER strategy before, during, or after induction. Analyses of the full sample will include an examination of potential moderators such as distress tolerance and pre-existing emotion regulation difficulties.

Aubrie Potteiger

Undergraduate Student
Albright College


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Peddling Toward a Better Mood: Effects of Low-Intensity Exercise on Induced Negative Affect

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