AFFECT-BASED EXERCISE PRESCRIPTION: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

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Abstract

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1. Always remember what the “prime objective” of any exercise or physical activity plan should be: encourage lifelong activity. Short-term adaptations (e.g., weight loss, fitness gains) should be considered secondary.

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2. Between allowing clients to choose their own pace and deciding for them, prefer the former but monitor for extreme responses (too low, too high). Setting an intensity even slightly higher than what the client would have selected may reduce the pleasure of exercise.

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3. Instructing clients to find a pace that makes them “feel good” is a good method of individualization. The process can be aided by asking them to maintain at least a +3 on a rating scale, called the Feeling Scale, where +5 is marked as “very good,” +3 is “good,” +1 is “fairly good,” −1 is “fairly bad,” −3 is “bad,” and −5 is “very bad.”

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4. Just as you systematically monitor heart rate and perceived exertion, make the assessment of pleasure/displeasure responses a part of your practice.

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