Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

The Effects of Park and Urban Settings on the Moods and Cognitive Strategies of Female Runners

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

The Effects of Park and Urban Settings on the Moods and Cognitive Strategies of Female Runners

Article excerpt

A substantial body of research has examined the relationship between running and mood change (Berger, Owen, Motl,& Parks, 1998; Dyer & Crouch, 1987; Gondola & Tuckman, 1983; Goode & Roth, 1993; Lane, Lane, & Firth, 2002; Morgan, O'Conner, Ellickson, & Bradey, 1988; Morgan, O'Conner, Sparling, & Pate, 1987; Morris & Salmon, 1994). While much of the research has investigated the chronic mood states of runners (Morgan et al., 1987; Morgan et al., 1988), several studies have examined the acute effects of running on mood (Dyer & Crouch, 1987; Goode & Roth, 1993; Harte & Eifert, 1994; Lane, et al., 2002). This research has consistently indicated that mood is significantly enhanced following a single run session. In general, acute exercise bouts are relatively short in duration, and the psychological benefits from a single run may not be dose sensitive (Cox, 1998). In other words, a 30-minute run and a 40-minute run should produce similar changes in mood. These findings have particular relevance to mental health, because mood and feeling states are intimately connected to the mental health outcomes of exercise (Leith, 1994), and overall psychological well-being (Berger, Owan, & Man, 1993). Finally, although it is well beyond the scope of this paper to present a full discussion of the mechanisms that underlie running-induced mood change, it should be noted that the research suggests that the benefits last approximately 2 hours, perhaps slightly longer (Carron, Hausenblas, & Estabrooks, 2003).

Numerous studies also have examined the cognitions of distance runners. Cognitive strategies are mental strategies used by runners to cope with the physical demands of training or competition (Morgan, 1978, Morgan & Pollock, 1977, Schemer, 1986; Schemer & Connolly, 2002), and have generally been separated into two distinct categories: association and dissociation. Association involves the constant monitoring of bodily signals such as pace and respiration, and other factors related to physical performance such as tactics (Goode & Roth, 1993; Morgan, 1978; Morgan & Pollock, 1977; Schemer, 1986). In contrast, dissociation is used to divert attention away from physical sensations such as pain and fatigue (Morgan, 1978; Morgan & Pollock, 1977). To more precisely identify runners' cognitions, several studies have divided dissociation into specific sub-categories. Padgett and Hill (1989), for example, distinguished between dissociation and external focus, while Goode and Roth 0993) further separated dissociation into four factors, including external surroundings, interpersonal relationships, daily events, and spiritual reflection. More recently, Stevinson & Biddle (1999) conceptualized both associative (task-relevant) and dissociative (task-irrelevant) thoughts as having internal and external dimensions. Internal associative cognitions involved the monitoring of breathing, perspiration, and other bodily functions, while internal dissociative thoughts involved daydreams, fantasies, and philosophical musings. External associative thoughts involved focusing on strategies, course specifications, and the like, and, of particular relevance to this study, external dissociation involved a focus on things like the scenery and the environment. Finally, Brewer, Van Raalte, and Linder (1996) developed their Attentional Focus Questionnaire, which included separate dimensions for association, dissociation, and distress.

While the bulk of the research on cognitive strategies also has found that association is related to faster run times (Masters & Lambert, 1989; Masters & Ogles, 1998; Schomer, 1986, Silva & Appelbaum, 1989; Tamman, 1996), runners of all skill levels tend to engage in dissociative thinking during training runs (Masters & Lambert, 1989; Ogles, Lynn, Masters, & Marsden, 1993-94; Okwumabua, Meyers, & Santille, 1987, Sachs, 1984). These findings are not unequivocal, however. …

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