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Variability in the Affective Exercise Experience of Low-active Women: Exploring the Role of Cognitive Appraisal During Exercise

By Amy Welch

Abstract

A popular avenue of research in the field of exercise psychology in recent years has been the exploration of affective responses to acute exercise. However, there has\ud been little research into the affective experiences of habitually low-active women during exercise and the mechanisms that govern these responses. This is surprising\ud given the current high rates of inactivity amongst women and the potential importance of affective associations for volitional behaviour. In addition, this area of research has\ud been hindered by methodological inconsistencies and limitations, which are arguably the reasons behind indefinite evidence of a dose-response relationship between exercise and affect (Ekkekakis & Petruzzello, 2000). The studies presented in this thesis were designed to investigate affective responses to exercise in low-active females from a holistic perspective. Specifically, the dual-model model (Ekkekakis, 2003) was employed as a theoretical framework, and the research sought to take into consideration the methodological concerns associated with previous studies.\ud \ud \ud The first study, a pilot investigation, demonstrated widespread interindividual variation in inactive female's affective responses during both high and low intensity\ud exercise bouts. Study two was designed to investigate the affective responses of twenty low-active females throughout an incremental exercise test to volitional exhaustion,\ud relative to metabolic demarcations of exercise intensity. Results of this study indicated that even though participants' affective valence improved from pre- to post-exercise, a mean decline began before the ventilatory threshold (VT) was reached (i. e., during\ud `moderate' intensity exercise). Study three manipulated twenty-four low-active female participants' perceptions of exercise duration to test the influence of cognitive appraisal of the task upon affective responses during `moderate' intensity exercise (i. e., at 90% VT), and the temporal relationship between self-efficacy and affect during exercise. Again, participants were more positive post-exercise than pre-exercise, but a progressive decline in affective valence during exercise was also observed that was more pronounced when participants were unaware of the exercise duration. Furthermore, the results of this study indicated that self-efficacy perceptions explained\ud substantial variance in affective valence during exercise. This relationship was stronger for self-efficacy measured during exercise than before exercise, and when exercise\ud duration was unknown compared to known. In the final study, six women who participated in both studies two and three were interviewed about their experiences of the exercise bouts they completed. A range of experiences were captured in narrative profiles and paired with quantitative data in order to comprehensively explore interindividual variability from the participants' perspectives. As a result, specific sources of self-efficacy and affect during exercise were identified.\ud \ud \ud Overall, the results presentedin this thesis revealed that even though low-active women felt better after exercise, affective valence during exercise declined as intensity\ud increased. Also, a substantial amount of interindividual variance at `moderate' intensity could be explained by cognitive appraisal factors, particularly self-efficacy perceptions during exercise. By utilising metabolic demarcations to accurately define exercise intensity, this research advocates the importance of a mind-body approach in exercise psychology research. This distinction, along with the mixed quantitative-qualitative methodology that was employed, enabled detailed exploration of individual differences in the exercise experience and highlighted important avenues for future research. Theoretical consequences of the research are discussed throughout the thesis, a sare the practical implications this research has for effective exercise prescription with inexperienced female exercisers

Publisher: Institute of Membrane and Systems Biology (Leeds)
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:400

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