Mood Dimensions Show Distinct Within-Subject Associations With Non-exercise Activity in Adolescents: An Ambulatory Assessment Study

Front Psychol. 2018 Mar 7:9:268. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00268. eCollection 2018.


Physical activity is known to preserve both physical and mental health. However, the physical activity levels of a large proportion of adolescents are insufficient. This is critical, since physical activity levels in youth have been shown to translate into adulthood. Whereas in adult populations, mood has been supposed to be one important psychological factor that drives physical activity in everyday life, this issue has been poorly studied in adolescent populations. Ambulatory Assessment is the state-of-the-art approach to investigate how mood and non-exercise activity fluctuate within persons in everyday life. Through assessments in real time and real life, this method provides ecological validity, bypassing several limitations of traditional assessment methods (e.g., recall biases). To investigate whether mood is associated with non-exercise activity in adolescents, we equipped a community-based sample comprising 113 participants, aged 12-17 years, with GPS-triggered e-diaries querying for valence, energetic arousal, and calmness, and with accelerometers continuously measuring physical activity in their everyday lives for 1 week. We excluded all acceleration data due to participants' exercise activities and thereafter we parameterized non-exercise activity as the mean value across 10-min intervals of movement acceleration intensity following each e-diary prompt. We used multilevel analyses to compute the effects of the mood dimensions on non-exercise activity within 10-min intervals directly following each e-diary prompt. Additionally, we conducted explorative analyses of the time course of the effects, i.e., on different timeframes of non-exercise activity up to 300 min following the mood assessment. The results showed that valence (p < 0.001) and energetic arousal (p < 0.001) were positively associated with non-exercise activity within the 10 min interval, whereas calmness (p < 0.001) was negatively associated with non-exercise activity. Specifically, adolescents who felt more content, full of energy, or less calm were more physically active in subsequent timeframes. Overall, our results demonstrate significant associations of mood with non-exercise activity in younger ages and converge with the previously observed association between mood and physical activity in adults. This knowledge on distinct associations of mood-dimensions with non-exercise activity may help to foster physical activity levels in adolescents.

Keywords: accelerometry; adolescents; affective states; ambulatory assessment; ecological momentary assessment; mood; non-exercise activity; physical activity.