Affective responses for the promotion of physical activity in emerging adulthood

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Derek J. Hevel (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jaclyn Maher

Abstract: Physical activity (PA) has mental and physical health benefits, yet many emerging adults (aged 18-29) are not meeting PA recommendations and thus, not reaping those benefits. Emerging adulthood is marked by new life experiences (e.g., changing residence) that are related to negative health effects which may be mitigated by PA. Affect may be one way to promote PA as hedonic theories posit that people are more likely to participate in behaviors that make them feel more pleasurable. Laboratory-based studies provide support for hedonic theories; however, laboratory investigations may not represent affective responses during PA in everyday life. Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) can overcome laboratory limitations by using accelerometers and mobile phones to repeatedly capture affective responses during PA in real-time and -world settings. This study sought to examine (1) how PA influences affective responses during the behavior in real-world settings and (2) how affective responses during PA predicts minutes of PA the following day. Physically active emerging adults completed a 10-day study in which participants responded to EMA prompts randomly throughout the day and during PA bouts to assess affect. Participants wore an accelerometer during waking hours to assess PA and trigger EMA prompts during bouts of PA. Emerging adults (n = 80; Mage = 22.8; 79% Female; 56% White, 41% Black or African American; MBMI = 25.38) completed the 10-day study. Results for Aim 1 revealed that at the between-person level, emerging adults who, on average, engaged in a greater proportion of occasions of PA experienced increases in positive affect (b = 24.901, SE = 10.384, p = 0.017) and decreases in negative affect (b = -39.693, SE = 14.533, p = 0.006) but no difference in feelings of energy (b = 13.721, SE = 13.084, p = 0.295) or feelings of fatigue (b = -21.541, SE = 16.441, p = 0.190). At the within-person level, on occasions when emerging adults engaged in PA, they experienced a decrease in negative affect (b = -4.808, SE = 1.306, p < 0.001) and feelings of fatigue (b = -7.224, SE = 1.900, p < 0.001) and increases in feelings of energy (b = 14.231, SE = 2.065, p < 0.001) but no difference in positive affect (b = 1.414, SE = 1.359, p = 0.298). Results for Aim 2 revealed that at the between-person level, emerging adults who, on average, experienced an increase in their average negative affect and feelings of energy during PA compared to non-PA occasions tended to engage in more next day PA (b = 0.025, SE = 0.011, p = 0.023) and less next day PA (b = -0.016, SE = 0.008, p = 0.036), respectively. At the between-person level, average changes in positive affect (b = 0.007, SE = 0.011, p = 0.502) and feelings of fatigue (b = 0.006, SE = 0.011, p = 0.596) during PA compared to non-PA occasions were not associated with next day PA. At the within-person level, on days when an individual experienced a larger than usual increase in feelings of fatigue during a bout of PA compared to during non-PA occasions, they engaged in less PA time the following day (b = -0.025, SE = 0.008, p = 0.002). At the within-person level, changes in positive affect (b = -0.009, SE = 0.009, p = 0.321), negative affect (b = -0.041, SE = 0.023, p = 0.077), and feelings of energy (b = 0.001, SE = 0.005, p = 0.855) during a bout of PA compared to during non-PA occasions were not associated with next day PA. Current findings suggests that interventions may consider promoting PA based on affective recommendations for immediate health benefits. Future work should examine differences in the association across the lifespan, in insufficiently active individuals, and across varying timescales to elucidate the pathway for effective health promotion.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Accelerometry, Ecological Momentary Assessment, Health Promotion, Multilevel Modeling, Naturalistic Setting
Young adults $x Health and hygiene
Exercise $x Health aspects
Affect (Psychology)

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