J. Magana, K. Jones, K. Fields, J. Cornejo, K. Sanchez, E. Waham, A. Vahk, K. Taylor

Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

There has been a considerable amount of research on the effects of audience-based social facilitation and performance across different populations, settings, and sports. However, limited research exists as to the effects of co-action social facilitation on cycling performance. PURPOSE: To determine the effects of co-action social facilitation on indoor cycling performance in physically inactive college students. METHODS: Physically inactive college students (n=14; 8 males; age 21.2±2.2 years) volunteered to cycle two miles at maximal effort on two separate occasions. For the first session, participants cycled in an isolated environment, while the second session was as a group. Peak heart rate (HR), time to completion, and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE; Borg 6-20 scale) were recorded during each test. At the end of the study, participants self-reported their level of competitiveness, level of enjoyment of exercise, and preferred exercise environment. Data were analyzed using paired samples t-test with an alpha level set at 0.05. RESULTS: There was a significant difference between the two groups for time to completion (p=.002) with the group condition (329.1±52.0 sec) finishing quicker than the individual condition (368.9±53.0 sec). However, there were no differences in peak HR (individual 183±16 bpm vs. group 188±13 bpm) or RPE (individual 14.4±2.1 vs. group 14.6±1.9) between conditions (p>0.05 for both). Fifty-seven percent of participants reported preferring the group exercise condition whereas 21.5% preferred exercising on their own and 21.5% did not have a preference. On a scale of 1-10, participants reported an average score of 6.5 for likelihood of participating in future group exercise. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that co-action social facilitation has a positive effect on cycling performance in physically inactive college-aged individuals. However, the task was not physiologically more demanding nor was it perceived to be more difficult in either condition. Therefore, this suggests that the mere presence of others completing the same task may improve performance. Future research should investigate whether these findings hold in real-world settings and whether co-action social facilitation may serve as an effective way to increase participation in physical activity in young adults.

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