The Effect of a Brief-Mindfulness Intervention on Psychophysiological Exertion and Flow-State Among Sedentary Adults

Percept Mot Skills. 2021 Jun;128(3):1078-1090. doi: 10.1177/0031512520984422. Epub 2021 Feb 3.


Mindfulness-acceptance commitment interventions in sport and exercise contexts have been helpful to increasing a positive psycho-physiological state among competitive athletes and recreational exercise participants. In the current study, we sought to extend research in this area by identifying the effect of a brief-mindfulness intervention on psychophysiological functioning among healthy but sedentary young adults. Our mixed gender sample (n = 42) of inactive individuals performed a brief cycling task without training (control condition) followed by task completion with brief mindfulness training (15-minute audio engagement with mindfulness techniques and specific present moment 'anchors'). We found that participants self-reported more accurate ratings of perceived exertion (i.e., self-ratings better matched actual physiological indices of exertion) following the mindfulness intervention, suggesting that mindfulness techniques can increase bodily awareness. Better body awareness may be useful to helping sedentary participants appreciate physiological changes experienced through exercise. The mindfulness manipulation also increased participants' absorption into the activity, suggesting greater attentiveness to the exercise task with less distraction from irrelevant external and internal cues. In sum, mindfulness may be a complementary psychological training tool for inactive, sedentary young adults attempting to re-engage with exercise. We provide recommendations for future research.

Keywords: exercise; flow; mindfulness; physical activity; rate of perceived exertion.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Young Adult