A transdisciplinary model integrating genetic, physiological, and psychological correlates of voluntary exercise

Health Psychol. 2007 Jan;26(1):30-9. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.26.1.30.


Objective: Physical inactivity contributes to as many as 250,000 premature deaths per year (R. R. Pate et al., 1995). The authors' objective was to test a transdisciplinary model of the ways in which genetic variants, physiological factors, and psychological factors are thought to influence exercise with 64 healthy, regular exercisers.

Design: In a within-subjects design, psychological and physiological responses to exercise were compared with responses to a sedentary activity.

Main outcome measures: The authors measured affective state, perceived exertion, heart rate, and temperature change in response to moderate exercise versus sedentary activity. They also quantified genotypes on a single nucleotide polymorphism in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene.

Results and conclusions: The data show a relation between increases in positive affective states and acute exercise behavior, as opposed to a sedentary control. The BDNF gene moderated the effect of exercise on mood, heart rate, and perceived exertion. Physiological factors were, in turn, related to mood response, and mood response was a significant correlate of motivation to exercise in the future and of current exercise behavior. The model has potential as a framework for the basic study of the genetic, physiological, and psychological processes involved with voluntary exercise and as a tool for the applied examination of tailored exercise interventions and their efficacy for different subsets of individuals.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Body Temperature Regulation / genetics
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Heart Rate / genetics
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor