Exercise Psychology


KIN 366 is a course designed to cover: (a) psychological theories for understanding and predicting health-oriented exercise behavior; (b) psychological and psychobiological responses to exercise; (c) psychological interventions for increasing exercise participation and adherence.

KIN 366 is a required course for several options in the undergraduate Kinesiology curriculum and is usually highly rated by students.

Teaching KIN 366
KIN 366: Exercise Psychology

Topics include: 

  • Short introduction to the course
  • Why does the world need exercise psychology?
  • Fundamentals of research
  • Exercise prescription trends
  • Acute effects on state anxiety and mood
  • Mechanisms of acute "feel-better" effects
  • Acute affective responses: Dose-response
  • Dual-mode theory
  • Instructions for Evidence-Based Practice Project
  • Rating of Perceived Exertion
  • Chronic exercise and mental health
  • Exercise and personality
  • Exercise and cognitive function
  • Health Belief Model
  • Theory of Reasoned Action and Theory of Planned Behavior
  • Social Cognitive Theory
  • Transtheoretical Model
  • Correlates of physical activity
  • Physical activity interventions

Some video clips from KIN 366: Exercise Psychology

 A study on the perceived effectiveness of antidepressant treatments. How is exercise rated by individuals diagnosed with clinical depression?

As exercise intensity approaches an individual's maximal capacity, the prefrontal cortex is deactivated. Why does this happen? 

How do you help an individual who is out-of-shape and feels bad during even modest intensities of exercise? 

In the case of interoceptive stimuli, such as those generated during exercise, the amygdala can be reached via multiple "low roads." Why?

Pleasure and displeasure evolved because they served some function that was important for survival. 

Bodily movement, physical activity has been an integral part of human evolution. 

When you give individuals the autonomy to self-select their exercise intensity, most will pick an appropriate level but some will pick intensities that are either too low to be effective or too high to be safe.

What are the predictions of the Dual Mode Theory about the relation between different levels of exercise intensity and affective responses (i.e., pleasure vs. displeasure)?

A common adage in exercise science and the popular press is that "exercise makes people feel better." But is this really true for most people?

The Profile of Mood States (POMS) is one of the most popular measures in exercise psychology. But few of the researchers who use it are aware of its history. 

Oftentimes, exercise programs are promoted on the basis of short-term adaptations in fitness or health. But the only really effective exercise intervention is the one that can be sustained over the long haul. 

Exercise fads, such as High-Intensity Interval Training, are promoted on the basis of promises that you only need to do "a little bit" of exercise. What are the psychological implications of these promises? 

Most people who start exercise programs drop out. While it may be comforting to exercise professionals to think that this is a failure on the part of the individual who quit, it is in fact the responsibility of the exercise professional to help prevent the dropout. 

In the mid-1990s, the focus of exercise science started to shift, from recommending regimented exercise programs to recommending incorporating more physical activity into people's lifestyles. 

Perceived lack of discretionary or leisure time is reliably reported as the leading cause of physical inactivity. But is this claim really true? 

On August 17, 2009, TIME magazine cover story was entitled "The Myth About Exercise." Let's look at the portrayal of exercise in that article.