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Keywords:

  • Aerobic exercise;
  • Mood;
  • Cardiovascular reactivity;
  • Anxiety

ABSTRACT

An experiment was conducted to examine the acute emotional and psychophysiological effects of a single bout of aerobic exercise. Forty active and 40 inactive college students were randomly assigned to an aerobic exercise or a waiting-period control condition. Self-report measures of mood and cardiovascular response measures to challenging cognitive tasks were collected before and after the 20-min exercise/control period to examine any exercise-induced changes. The results indicated that mood was significantly altered by the exercise activity, with reductions in tension and anxiety specifically evident. Exercise was not found to have any effects on cardiovascular reactivity. A test of aerobic fitness confirmed fitness differences between active and inactive participants, but no mood or reactivity effects related to activity status were obtained. These results suggest that both active and inactive individuals experience acute reductions in anxiety following single bouts of exercise, even in the absence of changes in cardiovascular reactivity. Implications for the continued investigation of the acute effects of exercise are discussed.