Doing what feels good (and avoiding what feels bad)-A growing recognition of the influence of affect on exercise behavior: A comment on williams et al.

  • Petruzzello S
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Comments on an article by D. M. Williams et al. (see record 2012-18326-008). As noted by David Williams and his colleagues, prevalence rates for physical activity remain disappointingly low, especially given how much attention has gone into research efforts to increase both adoption and adherence of physical activity behaviors. Their most recent effort provides a nice replication/extension of their earlier work which showed that affect experienced during an acute bout of aerobic exercise predicted physical activity participation 6 and 12 months later. Specifically, that study found that a 1-unit increase in affect during moderate-intensity exercise was associated with 38 min of additional physical activity 6 months later and 41 min of extra physical activity 12 months later. Essentially, the current study shows the same pattern, with affect experienced during a 10-min treadmill walk associated with increased physical activity 6 and 12 months later (29 and 14 min, respectively). There are several points related to this work that I am compelled to mention, some critical and some suggestive, but all are meant in the spirit of further increasing our ability to get people to not only start moving, but to keep them moving. Williams et al. are not the first to have done this, but rather this methodological feature is clearly providing insights that weren't garnered before. Indeed, in the current study of Williams et al., post-walk affective responses were not predictive of future exercise behavior-it was only the affect experienced during the walk that was able to provide such predictions. Without a shift in the exercise-affect paradigm, these insights would have remained hidden. It is also worth pointing out that the results might be fairly conservative. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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