Walking in (affective) circles: can short walks enhance affect?

J Behav Med. 2000 Jun;23(3):245-75. doi: 10.1023/a:1005558025163.


Recent physical activity recommendations call for activities that are of moderate intensity and can be performed intermittently during the day, such as walking. These proclamations were based partly on the assumption that moderate activities are generally more enjoyable than physically demanding ones, and they are, therefore, also more likely to be continued over the long haul. However, little is actually known about the affective outcomes of short bouts of walking and extant findings are equivocal. Four experimental studies examined the affective responses associated with short (10- to 15-min) bouts of walking using a dimensional conceptual model of affect, namely, the circumplex. Results consistently showed that walking was associated with shifts toward increased activation and more positive affective valence. Recovery from walking for 10-15 min was associated with a return toward calmness and relaxation. This pattern, was robust across different self-report measures of the circumplex affective dimensions, across ecological settings (field and laboratory), across time, and across samples.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Walking / physiology*