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Psychological responses to exercising in laboratory and natural environments

Kerr, J.H., Fujiyama, H.ORCID: 0000-0002-7546-6636, Sugano, A., Okamura, T., Chang, M. and Onouha, F. (2006) Psychological responses to exercising in laboratory and natural environments. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 7 (4). pp. 345-359.

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To monitor possible changes in emotions and stress pre- to post-exercise and directly compare the psychological effects of exercising in laboratory and natural exercise environments.


In each of two within-subjects experiments, a two-period crossover design was used where the order in which runners participated in the laboratory and natural running environments was counter-balanced to control for order effects.


Two groups of male recreational (N=22) and competitive runners (N=22) were participants in two separate exercise experiments. Each group ran 5 km (a) indoors on a laboratory treadmill and (b) outdoors in a natural environment. Ratings of affect were measured pre- and 10 min post-exercise.


Statistical analysis revealed significant increases in positive, and decreases in negative emotions pre- to post-exercise, irrespective of running condition, and higher pride with natural than laboratory running, were found for the recreational group. For competitive runners, excitement increased, and anxiety decreased pre- to post-exercise irrespective of running condition. Tension and effort stress scores were significantly higher with natural running than laboratory running.


Concerns about the impact of running environments on changes in emotion with running may be overstated as only one significant difference, for the individual emotion pride, between laboratory and natural exercise environments was obtained in the two experiments.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2005 Elsevier Ltd.
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