The effects of music versus mindfulness on affective responses to self-paced treadmill walking

Primary author: Anne Cox
Co-author(s): Sarah Ullrich-French; Amanda McMahon

Primary college/unit: College of Education
Campus: Pullman


Positive affective responses are positively associated with exercise behaviour. Thus, researchers have focused on identifying strategies that are most effective at optimizing positive affect during exercise. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of using dissociative (music) and associative (mindfulness) strategies during exercise on affect-related variables in women not currently meeting physical activity guidelines. Participants (N = 31, Mage = 28.6, SD = 9.9) completed three self-paced exercise sessions (control, music, mindfulness) on a treadmill in a randomized order. Affective responses and ratings of perceived exertion were measured at four points during the 20-minute exercise session and affective responses, enjoyment, mindfulness, remembered affect and forecasted affect were measured after the exercise session. Results showed that participants’ affective responses during exercise were similar across conditions. Significantly higher enjoyment, remembered and forecasted affect were reported for the music condition compared to the control. There were no differences between the music and mindfulness conditions. The only significant difference between the mindfulness and control conditions was higher forecasted affect in the mindfulness condition. Results suggest that the use of mindfulness as an associative attentional strategy during exercise may support positive affective responses that are similar in magnitude to music. The qualities of acceptance and nonjudgement characteristic of mindfulness distinguish it from other forms of associative attention.