Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Brief Walks in Outdoor and Laboratory Environments: Effects on Affective Responses, Enjoyment, and Intentions to Walk for Exercise

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Brief Walks in Outdoor and Laboratory Environments: Effects on Affective Responses, Enjoyment, and Intentions to Walk for Exercise

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of brief walks completed in outdoor and laboratory environments on affective responses, enjoyment, and intention to walk for exercise. Thirty-five active young women (M age = 22.14 years, SD = 1.73) walked for 10 min at a self-selected intensity in outdoor and laboratory environments. Affective responses were assessed before, during, and following each brief walk. Enjoyment and intention also were assessed following each walk. Results revealed that although both walks resulted in improvements in affective responses, participants reported greater pleasant affective states, enjoyment, and intention for future participation with outdoor walking. Results of correlation analyses also revealed that affective responses were only consistently related to enjoyment in the outdoor environment. These findings suggest that the environment influences the affective responses to brief walks and show that affective states experienced during walking are related to theoretical determinants of physical activity.

Key words: motivation, physical activity, setting, theory of planned behavior

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In spite of the well established health benefits of an active lifestyle, the majority of adults in the United States fall to achieve recommended daily amounts of physical activity (Dishman, Washburn, & Heath, 2004; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 1999). Growing concerns regarding the health consequences of inactivity have stimulated considerable interest in identifying modifiable determinants of physical activity that can be actively targeted in the design of inactivity interventions. In light of this issue, the physical activity recommendations outlined in Healthy People 2010 encourage individuals to select an appropriate dose of activity that is enjoyable (USDHHS, 2000). These guidelines reflect growing recognition that how people feel in response to acute physical activity may impact their subsequent motivation for the adoption and maintenance of an active lifestyle (Ekkekakis, Hall, & Petruzzello, 2005).

Consistent with this position, guidelines provided by Healthy People 2010 (USDHHS, 2000) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, 2006) advocate 30 min of daily physical activity in 10-min bouts of moderate-intensity walking. This recommendation is based, in part, on the expectation that brief walks are more tolerable and enjoyable than other forms of exercise and will subsequently foster enhanced motivation to engage in future physical activity participation. Hence, the ACSM and Healthy People 2010 guidelines implicitly underscore that how one feels in response to exercise is an essential consideration in the promotion of physical activity participation.

Despite the intuitive appeal of these recommendations, little is known about the extent to which brief walks may positively influence motivational correlates of physical activity participation. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) is one of the most commonly employed theoretical frameworks used to explain the adoption and maintenance of health behaviors (Ajzen, 1991). The TPB posits that the positive and/or negative evaluation of a behavior (attitude), perceived social pressure to engage in a behavior (subjective norm), and perceived control over participation (perceived behavioral control) determine an individual's intention to engage in health behaviors. There is considerable evidence supporting the utility of the application of the TPB in the exercise domain (see Hagger, Chatzisareantis, & Biddle, 2002). Consistent with these findings, results from a recent meta-analysis revealed significant relationships between TPB constructs and exercise, with intention and perceived behavioral control accounting for 21% of the variance in exercise behavior and attitude, perceived behavioral control, and subjective norm accounting for 34% of the variance in intention (Symons-Downs & Hausenblas, 2005). …

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