In the Zone: An Exploration of Personal Characteristics Underlying Affective Responses to Heavy Exercise

J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2018 Oct 1;40(5):249-258. doi: 10.1123/jsep.2017-0360. Epub 2018 Oct 31.


Positive affective responses to exercise have been linked to longer-term adherence. The dual-mode model indicates that affective responses during heavy exercise (between the ventilatory threshold and the respiratory compensation point) are subject to interindividual variability (zone of response variability). Participants (N = 48) completed measures to assess personal characteristics prior to a graded exercise test. Responses to the Feeling Scale were recorded during the graded exercise test and subsequently used to group participants as either negative responders or neutral/positive responders to heavy exercise. Discriminant function analysis was applied, and a significant weighted linear composite predicted affective response. Preference for exercise intensity and sex were significant predictors (p = .003). Negative responders had lower preference scores and were more likely to be men. The combination of these two variables successfully predicted group membership 71% of the time. Individual differences appear relevant when examining affective responses to heavy exercise.

Keywords: personality; physical activity; pleasure; preference; sensation seeking.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult