Title

The Effects of Exercise Enjoyment and Personality on Mood and Salivary Cortisol with Exercise Activity

Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Debora Baldwin

Committee Members

James Lawler, Rich Saudargas, Jeff Fairbrother

Abstract

The benefits of exercise are extensive; however, the majority of people do not participate in regular exercise. The problems with adherence may be due to personality factors and/or the of enjoyment of exercise. A pilot study was performed with the purpose of examining the relationship between exercise enjoyment and activity and to provide data for the validation of an enjoyment scale.

The purpose of the main study was to examine the relationships between exercise enjoyment, exercise activity, personality, mood, and salivary cortisol as well as the differences between the variables mentioned. Fifty-three students participated (22 male, 31 female; 11 sedentary, 20 moderately active, 22 highly active) by filling out surveys, rendering saliva samples, and riding a bicycle for 30 minutes. All participants kept their heart rates at a moderate level and perceived the exercise portion as moderate.

Results indicated that exercise enjoyment was positively related to physical activity and that females exercised less often than males. The broad personality traits of Extroversion and Conscientiousness were positively related to enjoyment with Neuroticism only showing a negative trend. Extroversion was positively related and Neuroticism was negatively related to physical activity level. Extroversion predicted enjoyment and activity levels. The specific personality trait of Work Drive was not related to enjoyment and only approached significance with physical activity. Some factors of mood improved with exercise (Revitalization increased and Physical Exhaustion decreased) while other factors of mood showed no relationship to exercise (Tranquility and Positive Engagement). Activity level did not moderate cortisol levels. For all participants, cortisol levels increased from baseline to after the bike ride and continued to increase 20 minutes later. Cortisol was not related to any broad personality traits. Work Drive predicted cortisol levels after the bike ride, but other results did not support the overall relationship between Work Drive and cortisol levels.

Overall, the study supports the connections between enjoyment and activity, personality and activity, personality and enjoyment, exercise and cortisol, and mood and activity. The methods are reviewed and the implications of the findings are discussed.

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