Tai Chi, yoga, and stretching regimens are gaining popularity as alternatives to more traditional exercise, but there is scant research regarding participants' perceived exertion and affective responses to these practices. We compared experienced states of perceived exertion, feelings of pleasure/displeasure, and arousal in 70 elderly women enrolled in groups of Tai Chi ( n = 26), yoga ( n = 25), or stretching ( n = 19) classes. Mean rates of perceived exertion, feelings of pleasure, and arousal responses were significantly higher over the time course of all three groups, while the overall mean perceived exertion ( Somewhat Hard on the Borg CR-10 scale) and pleasure responses (∼ Very Good on the Feeling Scale) were similar between them. The circumplex model of affect showed that changes occurred in the high-activation pleasure quadrant (energy on the Felt Arousal Scale). From a practical perspective, the exercise intensity and affective responses elicited during these classes made participants feel good and infused with energy, likely creating a positive memory and reinforcing continued physical activity participation.
Keywords: adherence; affect; aging; mind–body exercise; perceived exertion.