PREFERRED MODALITY INFLUENCES ON EXERCISE-INDUCED MOOD CHANGES
1University of Wolverhampton, UK
2Brunel University, UK
3University of Southern Queensland, Australia
20 January 2004
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2005) 4, 195 - 200
Google Scholar for Citing Articles
present study tested, both retrospectively and prospectively, exercise-induced
mood changes among regular exercisers. Specifically, it examined the
extent to which preferred exercise modality promoted greater mood
benefits. A group of 25 exercise participants (M = 35.5 yr., SD =
10.5 yr.) took part in the study. All participants had exercised at
least three times a week (M = 3.5, SD = 2.3) during the previous year.
Participants completed a 14-item Exercise Preference Questionnaire
to provide retrospective evaluations of their most- and least-preferred
type of exercise. For the prospective investigation, participants
completed the Brunel Mood Scale (BRUMS) 15 minutes before and immediately
after their most- and least-preferred exercise sessions. One week
separated completion of each exercise session. Retrospective assessment
of exercise-induced mood changes showed strong support for enhanced
mood following the preferred mode of exercise. Also, as hypothesized,
prospective results showed that mood enhancement was greater following
the preferred exercise modality, but significant mood enhancement
also occurred following the least-preferred modality among experienced
exercisers. In conclusions, findings support the principle that exercise
can provide psychological benefits to its participants, in the form
of positive affective outcomes, something that appears to be enhanced
by preferred exercise modality. Given the important public health
implications of exercise adherence, future research should seek to
further investigate the mechanisms of exercise-induced mood enhancement.
WORDS: Mood, emotion, affect, exercise, preferred modality,
mood enhancement is a frequently investigated topic in exercise
psychology, although the mechanisms involved are not well understood
Buckworth and Dishman, 2002;
Mutrie and Biddle, 1995).
The importance to public health of understanding these mechanisms
is evidenced by the findings of Thayer et al (1994),
who showed that 44% of a sample of the general population reported
exercise as an effective strategy to regulate mood. In a review
of salient research, Berger and Motl (2000)
cited evidence of both acute and chronic mood enhancement following
exercise, and identified several factors proposed to maximize its
mood-enhancing effects. These factors included duration of 20 -
30 minutes, moderate intensity, regular frequency (3 x week), rhythmic
breathing, predictable and repetitive movements, and an absence
of interpersonal competition. They also cited enjoyment as a variable
that may moderate mood changes. Recent research has also shown that
perceived satisfaction with performance during exercise exerts significant
influence on mood enhancement (Bartholomew and Miller, 2002).
Generally, there has been a paucity of research to assess the impact
of individual factors, such as enjoyment and perceived satisfaction
with performance, on mood changes following exercise.
Previous research into mood changes following exercise has tended
to focus on the type and intensity of exercise (Bartholomew, 1999;
Bartholomew et al., 2001).
Although findings generally show that exercise enhances mood, the
degree of mood enhancement varies between studies. Berger and Motl's
proposal that moderate exercise is associated with greater mood
enhancement was based on the balance of evidence (i.e., more studies
supported this proposal than refuted it). It is suggested that attitudes
toward exercise, in particular, preference for a specific exercise
modality and perhaps for one exercise intensity over another, may
have contributed to the equivocality of research findings.
Research into exercise-induced mood changes may have underestimated
the impact of at least three important variables - preferred modality
of exercise, naturalistic exercise settings, and the exercise experience
of participants. For example, most investigations of exercise-induced
mood changes have used experimental or quasi-experimental designs
Such research designs have tended to involve participants in exercise
modalities prescribed by the researcher (s) rather than self-selected
modalities. Thus, participants in such studies may have been unfamiliar
with the prescribed form of exercise, which may have limited its
mood-enhancing effects. Compared to prescribed forms of exercise,
self-selected modalities would appear to offer greater potential
for mood enhancement.
In a recent study, Daley and Maynard (2003)
compared affective responses to a prescribed exercise session (i.e.,
cycling) and a preferred exercise session. Daley and Maynard used
the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS: Watson et al.,
to assess mood. No differences in exercise-induced mood responses
were found, although given that 10% of participants also chose cycling
as their preferred mode of exercise, this was perhaps unsurprising.
However, Daley and Maynard acknowledged as a limitation of their
design that exercise testing took place in laboratory conditions
rather than in the usual exercise setting of participants, and suggested
that future research should investigate the effects of preferred
activity on mood in a naturalistic setting.
Finally, the importance of considering the exercise experience of
participants in research investigating mood changes has recently
been emphasized (Lane and Lovejoy, 2001).
Given that regular exercisers are more likely to endorse the benefits
of exercise over the effort required to complete the exercise session
(Bartholomew and Miller, 2002)
it is appropriate from the perspective of both ecological validity
and the potential for experimental effects, to use experienced exercisers
as participants in investigations of exercise-induced mood changes.
The purpose of the present study was to test, both retrospectively
and prospectively, the effectiveness of exercise as a strategy to
improve mood among individuals who exercised regularly. The research
sought to control for experience effects by selecting participants
whose exercise habits met the criteria for mood improvement proposed
by Berger and Motl (2000).
Specifically, an exploration of whether preferred exercise modality
promoted mood regulation benefits was the key issue of interest.
It was hypothesized that the most-preferred exercise modality of
participants would induce more positive mood changes compared to
their least-preferred modality.
Twenty-five volunteer exercisers participated in the present study
(Age: M = 35.5 yr., SD = 10.5 yr.). Seven participants were males
and 18 were females. All participants had exercised three times
a week or more (M = 3.5, SD = 2.3) for at least one year.
Mood was assessed using the Brunel Mood Scale (BRUMS: Terry et al.,
2003). The BRUMS, a shortened derivative of the Profile of Mood
States (POMS, McNair et al., 1971)
contains 24 items to assess six dimensions of mood -- Anger, Confusion,
Depression, Fatigue, Tension, and Vigor. Validation studies have
demonstrated satisfactory psychometric characteristics for the BRUMS
among more than 3000 participants, in support of its factorial and
predictive validity (Terry et al., 1999;
2003). Recent research has provided evidence of factorial validity
for the BRUMS among a sample of 975 exercisers who completed the
measure before and after exercise (Lane et al., 2002).
Confirmatory factor analysis indicated acceptable fit indexes both
pre- and post-exercise.
Items are rated on a 5-point scale anchored by not at all
(0) and extremely (4). In the present study, BRUMS factor
scores were transformed into standard score format (M = 50, SD =
10) using normative data for adult exercisers. The BRUMS was chosen
as the preferred measure of mood because, unlike alternative measures,
it was validated for use with a British population.
Participants completed a 14-item questionnaire to provide retrospective
evaluations of their most- and least-preferred type of exercise,
based on a measure developed by Thayer et al (1994).
They first chose their most-preferred exercise modality from among
those they had experienced over the past month. Most-preferred exercise
modalities were abdominal exercises (n = 2), circuit training (n
= 4), cycling (n = 2), running (n = 9), walking (n = 2), and weight
training (n = 6). Participants rated the extent to which their most-preferred
exercise session had been effective in promoting mood benefits generally
and in changing six specific dimensions of mood, corresponding to
the BRUMS subscales (Anger, Confusion, Depression, Fatigue, Tension
and Vigor). This process was repeated for their least-preferred
exercise modality over the past month. Least-preferred exercise
modalities were abdominal exercises (n = 2), arm strengthening (n
=2), cycling (n = 2), leg strengthening (n = 2), rowing (n = 2),
running (n = 4), stepper (n = 9), and weight training (n = 2). Perceptions
of the effectiveness of exercise to change mood were recorded on
a 9-point Likert scale, anchored by 1 = not at all effective
and 9 = extremely effective.
Data were collected over a three-week period. In the first week,
participants completed the Exercise Preference Questionnaire, to
retrospectively assess the mood-regulating qualities of their most-preferred
and least-preferred exercise session during the past month. Participants
were randomly assigned to two different orders of presentation in
terms of doing a most-preferred and least-preferred exercise session
during subsequent weeks. In weeks 2 and 3, mood changes associated
with these sessions were assessed prospectively. Half the sample
completed their most-preferred exercise session in week 2 followed
by their least-preferred session in week 3. The other half completed
the exercise sessions in the opposite weeks to control for order
effects. Each exercise session lasted 30 minutes.
Ethical approval for the research was granted from the University
of the second author. Written informed consent was obtained from
participants before testing commenced and assurances of confidentiality
were provided. Participants completed the BRUMS approximately 15
minutes before and immediately after exercising, using the response
timeframe "How are you feeling right now?"
All exercise sessions were performed at a fitness club in the London
area. From previous experience as exercisers at the club, all participants
were familiar with the exercise equipment and exercise protocols
used in the present study. Participants were treated in accordance
with the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association
and no incentives for participation in the study were offered.
MANOVA was used to compare retrospective reports of the mood-regulating
effects of participants' most- and least-preferred exercise sessions
during the past month. As hypothesized, participants reported that
their most-preferred exercise session had been significantly more
effective in enhancing mood. As shown in Table
1, participants reported the advantages of their most-preferred
exercise modality in enhancing mood generally and, more specifically,
in decreasing scores for Anger, Confusion, Depression, Fatigue and
Tension, and increasing scores for Vigor.
Descriptive statistics for the prospective assessment of mood changes
during exercise are contained in Table
2. A 2 x 2 repeated-measures MANOVA (time x exercise modality)
showed a significant main effect of time (Wilks' lambda6,18 = .72,
p < 0.01, Partial Eta2 = 0.28), no main effect of exercise modality
(Wilks' lambda6,18 = 0.92, p > 0.05, Partial Eta2 = 0.02), and
a significant interaction effect (Wilks' lambda6,18 = 0.84, p <
0.05, Partial Eta2 = 0.17). Univariate effects showed that Depression
(F1,24 = 5.09. p < 0.05, Partial Eta2 = 0.05) and Tension (F1,24
= 6.82, p < 0.05, Partial Eta2 = 0.07) scores decreased, while
Vigor scores increased (F1,24 = 26.34. p < 0.001, Partial Eta2
= 0.22) regardless of exercise modality. Importantly, the interaction
effect showed that the increase in Vigor scores (F1,24 = 10.91,
p < .01, Partial Eta2 = 0.11) was significantly greater following
the most-preferred exercise session compared to the least-preferred
session. Reductions in Anger, Confusion, Depression, and Fatigue
scores were greater for the most-preferred exercise modality, although
these differences were not significant.
Given the number of variables and the relatively few participants
involved, the statistical significance of observed differences would
have been affected by low statistical power. Therefore, to summarize
improvements in mood more succinctly, we calculated a measure of
Total Mood Disturbance (TMD: Anger + Confusion + Depression + Fatigue
+ Tension - Vigor). A repeated-measures ANOVA (time x exercise modality)
of TMD scores showed a significant main effect of time (F1,23 =
17.53, p < 0.001, Partial Eta2 = 0.43), a significant main effect
of mode of exercise (F1,23 = 20.39, p < 0.001, Partial Eta2
= 0.47), and a significant interaction effect (F1,23 = 7.69, p
< 0.05, Partial Eta2 = 0.26). These effects showed that the most-
and least-preferred forms of exercise both produced significant
mood enhancement, but that mood enhancement was significantly greater
for the most-preferred exercise modality compared to the least-preferred
present study investigated how preference for exercise modality
influenced exercise-induced mood changes in a naturalistic setting.
Retrospective ratings endorsed the notion that participation in
most-preferred exercise activities was a more effective strategy
for improving mood than participation in least-preferred activities.
This is not surprising; especially given the possibility that the
mood benefits that participants associate with a particular exercise
modality might be the very characteristics that cause them to prefer
that form of exercise in the first place. However, it is important
to contextualize the meaning of the term least-preferred session
described in the present study. All participants were regular exercisers,
whose least-preferred session was performed as a normal part of
their weekly program, not one imposed by the researchers. Therefore,
even least-preferred sessions could be assumed to have more attraction,
either in terms of perceived physiological or psychological benefits,
than exercise modalities not included in their weekly program at
Prospective assessment of exercise-induced mood changes showed,
as hypothesized, that the most-preferred exercise modality was associated
with greater mood enhancement, in particular increased perceptions
of vigor. Consistent with previous research, results also showed
that exercise was associated with mood enhancement regardless of
exercise modality (Berger and Motl, 2000).
An important feature of the present study was that participants
were regular and experienced exercisers. Among this population,
it appears that mood enhancement is a normal outcome of exercise,
even for the least-preferred elements of their weekly program, but
preferred exercise modalities bring about additional improvements
in mood. The taxonomy for mood enhancement from exercise proposed
by Berger and Motl (2000)
suggested that enjoyment is an important factor in determining mood
benefits. If enjoyment can be operationalized in terms of a preference
for a particular exercise modality, then the present results are
supportive of Berger and Motl's suggestion.
Findings of the present study contrast with those reported by Daley
and Maynard (2003).
At least two factors might explain these differences. First, participants
in the present study indicated their least-preferred activity, against
which to compare the effects of their most-preferred activity; whereas
Daley and Maynard prescribed cycling as the comparison activity,
which some participants also reported to be their preferred activity.
Second, Daley and Maynard tested participants in a laboratory rather
than a naturalistic setting where the individuals typically exercised.
We suggest that our findings support the notion that research to
examine exercise- induced mood responses should be conducted in
ecologically valid settings.
Previous research into exercise-induced mood changes has particularly
implicated exercise intensity as an influential variable (Bartholomew,
Berger and Motl, 2000).
For example, Berger and Motl (2000)
proposed that moderately intense exercise was the mode of choice
if mood enhancement is the goal. In the present study, some participants
reported high intensity exercise sessions as their most-preferred
modality whereas others preferred high- intensity forms of exercise
least. This suggests that individual differences would play an influential
role in the exercise intensity - mood enhancement relationship,
and their moderating influence might form the focus for future research
A second line of future research should investigate reasons why
individuals learn to enjoy one form of exercise over another. It
should be noted that retrospective mean scores for the effectiveness
of preferred exercise was 6.38 (SD = 1. 50) on a scale anchored
by 9, thus it is possible to further enhance the benefits of exercise
even when participants use their preferred modality. Enhanced knowledge
on why individuals learn to enjoy exercise could help the design
of intervention strategies designed to improve the psychological
benefits from exercise.
The importance of the present findings lies in at least three distinct
areas. First, the results confirm the significant mood-enhancing
effects of exercise, regardless of modality, among regular exercise
participants in a naturalistic setting. Second, the results show
that preferred exercise modality is associated with even greater
mood-enhancing effects, especially in terms of generating perceptions
of increased vigor. Third, the results support the notion that significant
mood enhancement accrues from exercise that is consistent with the
recommendations of Berger and Motl (2000)
but may also accrue from exercise that is not consistent with those
these findings support the principle that exercise can provide psychological
benefits to its participants, in the form of positive affective
outcomes. Future research into exercise- induced mood changes should
seek to further understand the reasons why individuals prefer one
modality of exercise over another and to develop strategies to enhance
the psychological benefits from exercise.
great deal of exercise shows that exercise is associated with
positive mood following exercise. Previous research has sought
to determine whether one form of exercise improved mood states
more than others.
present study investigated the extent to which personal preference
of exercise modality influenced mood changes following exercise.
completed mood state scales before and after exercise.
support the notion that exercise can provide psychological benefits
to its participants, in the form of positive affective outcomes,
something that appears to be enhanced by preferred exercise modality.
Andrew M. LANE
Employment: Professor in Sport and Exercise Psychology,
School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of
Degree: BA, PGCE, MSc, PhD.
Research interests: Mood, emotion, measurements, coping,
Employment: Postgraduate Researcher in Sport and Exercise
Psychology, Department of Sports Sciences, Brunel University,
Degree: BSc, MSc.
Research interests: Mood, emotion, exercise prescription
and exercise leadership.
Peter C. TERRY
Employment: Professorial Research Fellow, University of
Southern Queensland, Department of Psychology, Toowoomba, QLD
Degree: BA, PGCE, MSc, PhD
Research interests: Mood, emotion, measurements, applied
psychology, and performance.