Objective: Higher positive and lower negative affective response during physical activity may reinforce motivation to engage in future activity. However, affective response during physical activity is typically examined under controlled laboratory conditions. This research used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to examine social and physical contextual influences on momentary affective response during physical activity in naturalistic settings.
Method: Participants included 116 adults (mean age = 40.3 years, 73% female) who completed 8 randomly prompted EMA surveys per day for 4 days across 3 semiannual waves. EMA surveys measured current activity level, social context, and physical context. Participants also rated their current positive and negative affect. Multilevel models assessed whether momentary physical activity level moderated differences in affective response across contexts controlling for day of the week, time of day, and activity intensity (measured by accelerometer).
Results: The Activity Level × Alone interaction was significant for predicting positive affect (β = -0.302, SE = 0.133, p = .024). Greater positive affect during physical activity was reported when with other people (vs. alone). The Activity Level × Outdoors interaction was significant for predicting negative affect (β = -0.206, SE = 0.097, p = .034). Lower negative affect during physical activity was reported outdoors (vs. indoors).
Conclusions: Being with other people may enhance positive affective response during physical activity, and being outdoors may dampen negative affective response during physical activity.
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