aDepartment of Health and Human Performance, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USAbCentre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Leeds, UKcSchool of Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia, Canada
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Objective:The link between exercise intensity and affect has been a popular topic of investigation for many years but has drawn few universally accepted conclusions. Recently, Ekkekakis [(2003). Pleasure and displeasure from the body: Perspectives from exercise. Cognition and Emotion, 7, 213–239] proposed a ‘dual-mode model’ to explain the nature of this relationship by employing individual metabolic markers (such as the ventilatory threshold) as demarcators of exercise intensity. The overall purpose of the study was to test this model with an inactive female sample as current evidence is based largely on research with healthy, active participants.Design:Twenty inactive women completed a maximal incremental exercise test to the limit of tolerance on a cycle ergometer. Affect was recorded repeatedly before, during and after exercise, while attentional focus was recorded repeatedly during exercise.Results and conclusions:Repeated-measures Analyses of Variance (ANOVAs') demonstrated a significant (Symbol) improvement in affective valence from baseline after 10 min of rest post-exercise, and a significant decrease (Symbol) during exercise from the first minute of exercise to the minute before the ventilatory threshold, which continued its decline until exhaustion. Attentional focus became progressively more associative as work rate increased. Some support for the dual-mode model was found, with a progressive mean decline in valence as exercise intensity increased and a rapid improvement in valence on cessation of intense exercise. However, the data suggest that a mean decline in valence began before the ventilatory threshold and that substantial interindividual variability in direction and magnitude of affect was observed below and above the ventilatory threshold, respectively. Factors that may influence this variability warrant further attention and could have important implications for effective exercise prescription for novice exercisers. Accordingly, findings are discussed in relation to theory advancement and intervention.