Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Steven Wininger (Director), Dr. Lance Hahn, Dr. Andrew Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education


While there are studies linking positive psychological outcomes with exercise, few have focused on choice as a moderating factor. The research that has examined choice as a moderator yielded mixed results. Currently no research has looked at the impact of choice of exercise intensity on the psychological benefits of acute exercise; specifically, affective and cognitive gains. According to Landers (2008), acute exercise refers to a single bout of exercise usually lasting a short duration, whereas chronic exercise refers to long term repeated bouts of exercise (e.g., weeks, months, or years). Participants in this study consisted of 117 collegiate psychology students. The study consisted of two trials. The first trial was used to establish a baseline. Next, students were randomly assigned to one of four conditions for the second trial. Everything stayed consistent from the first trial to the second trial, except the extent of choice given with regard to exercise intensity. Affect and cognition measures were given to all participants on both days. For trial two, group 1 was given full choice, e.g., they were able to exercise at their own pace. Group 2 had to exercise at the average pace from their first session, group 3 exercised at a pace equivalent to two rate of perceived exertion (RPE) levels above their average pace from the first session, and group 4 exercised at a pace two RPE levels below their average pace from the first session. A mixed model MANOVA was used to analyze the participants’ cognitive and affective data. Although the outcomes of the study were limited, Group 1 (choice) performed better on two of the executive function measures (Trail Making Test, Letter Number Sequence) for the second trial than the other experimental groups.


Cognitive Psychology | Health Psychology | Psychology