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A Randomized Control Intervention Investigating the Effects of Acute Exercise on Emotional Regulation

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Objectives: Exercise may help to cope with hectic or demanding events after a stressful situation occurs. Limited research has evaluated whether exercise, prior to a stressor, helps to facilitate subsequent emotional regulation. This pilot study addresses this novel paradigm. We employed a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effects of acute exercise on emotional regulation. Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to stretch (control group, N = 10), walk (N = 9), or jog (N = 8) for 15-minutes, after which they were exposed to a film clip intended to elicit a negative emotional response. Participants' emotions were monitored before and during exercise, as well as after the film clip. Emotional responses were evaluated using the Exercise Induced Feeling Inventory and Affective Circumplex Scale. Results: A group x time splitplot interaction effect was significant for anger (p = .046) and anxiousness (p = .038). Follow-up analyses showed that only the stretching group (p = .048) had a significantly increased anger score from baseline to post-film clip, suggesting a protective emotional effect from walking and jogging. Conclusions: Exercise was effective in regulating anger and anxiousness after a stressful event. These findings provide evidence for potential preventive effects of exercise in facilitating emotional regulation.
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Keywords: AFFECT; EMOTIONS; EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY; PHYSICAL ACTIVITY; STRESS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory, Exercise Psychology Laboratory, Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 2: Behavioral Medicine Lab, School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, The University of Victoria, Victoria, BC (Canada) 3: Jackson Heart Study Vanguard Center of Oxford, Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory, Exercise Psychology Laboratory, Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, The University of Mississippi, University, MS;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 September 2017

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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