Exercise as it relates to Disease/Does being happy lead to a more active lifestyle?
What is the background to this research?
Physical activity is something that everyone should do, regardless of fitness levels as it keeps people healthy. Obesity rates are climbing at a fast and dangerous rate. Physical activity guidelines state for Adults (18-64 years old) should be accumulating 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity. This includes 2 strengthening activities on at least 2 days a week. If these outcomes can not be achieved doing any form of physical activity is still better than nothing.  This study is designed to investigate the influence if peoples emotions determine whether emotions will dictate exercise and engagement in physical activity. Individuals intention are tested with the ‘Theory of Planned Behaviour’ (TPB). These predictors include intention to exercise, social norms and self-efficacy.
Where is the research from?
The research was conducted at the Department of Communications and Theater Arts at John Carroll University Amherst, New Your USA and assisted by Department of Communications, State university of New York, Buffalo U.S.A. This was published by Science Direct Volume 14, Issue 2. The theory of Planned Behavior was invented by Icek Ajzen. It is derived from a number of previous studies which engage in health behaviors The theory has been interpreted and guided by three considerations
- Subjective Norms
- Perceived Behavioral Control
What kind of research was this?
The research data was collected through an experimental randomised survey on Theory of Planned Behaviour. It was conducted with sophomores and juniors. The nature of this study was to observe if happiness encourages exercise, as well as seeing if a negatively impacted attitude reduces the idea or desire to exercise.
What did the research involve?
The hypothesis was tested through a collection of experimental surveys of 153 college students all in a large university. All participants were located upstate in New York in autumn 2011 with all the participants being undergraduate students. All the participants were randomly assigned to one experimental condition which were split into 3 categories:
- Neutral - Documentary on 'In Site Mind of Google'
- Positive - Video clips from 'Funniest Home Videos'
- Negative – Movie clip from ‘Marly and Me’ where the pet dog dies 
Each video length was 10 minutes. Each participant was asked to complete a survey about exercise after the video. A manipulation check was embedded at the beginning of the questionnaire. The questionnaire contained measurable of the Theory pf Planed Behavior with other variables and control variables. This entirety took 20 to 30 minutes to complete. The participants were asked to indicate on a scale of 0 – 10 of they believed that exercise was
10 items were used to measure affect, 4 being positive and 6 being negative. Positive affect items included happy, content, cheerful, and excited. Negative affect items included sad, upset, troubled, agitated, anxious, and stressed. These items were intended to capture a broad range of positive and negative emotions and were gathered from prior research 
What were the basic results?
The results indicate that more than two thirds had reportedly exercised within the last 3 days, with 87.6% of all participants indicating that they had exercised within the last 10 days. With less than 5% of participants recording they rarely/never exercise. The participants reported that exercise was a part of a healthy lifestyle. All this is indicating that the sample had a very high baseline for exercise intentions already.
|Positive||7.03 (1.41)||6.65, 7.41||3.00 (1.81)||2.50, 3.51||6.31 (1.85)||5.77, 6.86||0.53|
|Negative||1.59 (1.83)||1.10, 2.09||4.66 (2.18)||4.05, 5.28||1.76 (1.62)||1.28, 2.23||0.36|
After the manipulation test, emotions such as sadness influenced their perception on exercise. Those who felt more negative affect might consider the idea the of exercising less favorable than they normally would.
This also means when decision making people consider the potential losses to a greater degree over potential gains. This is likely to be because negative information and positive information are processed differently. People use what is called heuristics to help make decisions in which negative information is presented and those outcomes are unfavorable. Therefore it is favored to be avoided more. It is quicker and easier to use mental shortcuts to make decisions, people rely one the notion that people should avoid potentially negative outcomes.  The article does indicate that participants (especially in the neutral category) may already by happy, this exercising numbers were high Research has also shown that individuals weigh negative information more heavily than positive information when making decisions. 
What conclusions can we take from this research?
Being happy does not necessarily makes people to being more incline to exercise. The study had indicated that a negative affect towards exercise plays a greater role in decreasing intentions to exercise. Exercise is generally associated with positive affect so this can influence someone’s decision to exercise. The participants in the neutral affect has remarkably similar results as the participants with positive affect. This may be due to these participants being generally happier, so the video did not alter any moods. 
Exercising whilst with a positive attitude will make people feel more prone to exercise. Emotional influences such as sadness will affect any perception to exercise in a negative way. In comparison the positive participants may already have a clouded judgement through their own emotional experience. Overall living an active and healthy lifestyle increases general health and reducing risks of illness/diseases.
- Theories that explain emotions during exercise
- Australian guidelines on Physical Activity
- Additional reading on Theory of Planned Behaviour