Don't worry, be active!

20 November 2011

Positive affect and habitual physical activity

Deakin University’s Associate Professor Julie Pasco and her research colleagues have just finished a study that has found emotions such as excitement, enthusiasm and alertness are associated with higher levels of habitual physical activity.

“The benefits of physical activity on general health and wellbeing are widely recognised,” Associate Professor Pasco said.

“Physical inactivity has been linked to depression in clinical populations, and physical activity has been shown to be protective against developing depression; however, the mechanism of these effects are unknown.

“The aim of this our study was to examine the association between regular physicalactivity and any positive and negative effects on emotions.

“It included 276 women aged 20 to 84 from the Geelong Osteoporosis Study, a population-based study being conducted by Deakin University’s School of Medicine, at Barwon Health.”

Regular, or habitual, physical activity and other lifestyle exposures choices were assessed through a questionnaire. 

“Physical activity was categorised as very active, moderately active or sedentary,” Associate Professor Pasco said.

“We determined positive and negative scores through something we called PANAS, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule.

“The results showed that higher positive affect scores, encompassing emotions such as interest, excitement, enthusiasm and alertness, are associated with higher levels of habitual physical activity.

“The connection of physical activity with emotion appears to operate through enhancement of positive emotions, rather than diminution of negative emotions such as distress, anger and distrust.”

Associate Professor Pasco said this study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, warranted further research into the factors, both neurobiological and psychosocial, that cause the association. 

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Associate Professor Julie Pasco Associate Professor Julie Pasco

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