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Cognitive reappraisal reduces perceived exertion during endurance exercise

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Abstract

Emotion regulation may influence psychological responses to exercise. We examined whether the emotion regulation strategies, cognitive reappraisal and distraction, influenced psychological state and prefrontal cortex oxygenation during endurance exercise. Twenty-four endurance runners ran for 90 min at 75–85% maximum heart rate in three separate sessions with no instruction or with instructions to use cognitive reappraisal or distraction. Participants rated their emotional arousal, emotional valence, and perceived exertion before, every 30 min during, and after exercise. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy quantified changes in prefrontal cortex oxygenation. Participants felt lower emotional arousal and physical exertion when instructed to utilize cognitive reappraisal than when given no emotion regulation instruction. Such responses to distraction did not differ from the other conditions. Emotion regulation strategies did not influence emotional valence or prefrontal cortex oxygenation. Participants’ analytical interpretation of the cognitive reappraisal instruction could contribute to small effect sizes and limited effects. Further research should determine contexts under which emotion regulation strategies most benefit endurance exercise experience.

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Funding

The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not reflect those of the United States Army. Research reported was supported through a contract with the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC, Natick, Massachusetts, USA) under award number W911QY13C0012.

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Correspondence to Grace E. Giles.

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Appendix

Appendix

Questionnaire descriptions

Internal consistency assessments (α coefficients), where appropriate, are based on responses from present study participants.

Godin leisure time questionnaire

The Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire was used to quantify participants’ activity level, and asks participants the number of times they engage in strenuous, moderate, and light exercise for at least 15 min over an average week (Godin and Shephard 1985). A weekly leisure activity score was calculated by multiplying the number of times participants engaged in strenuous, moderate and light exercise for at least 15 min by 9, 5, and 3, respectively, and summing the resulting scores. Individuals who score at least 24 are considered active and those who score less than 14 are considered inactive (Godin 2011).

Beck depression inventory (BDI)

The BDI is a commonly used scale to quantify depressive symptoms (Beck et al. 1961). It contains 21 self-report statements in which participants rate attitudes and thoughts associated with depression, such as sadness, pessimism, loss of interest, changes in appetite, and fatigue on scales ranging from 0 to 3, e.g. Sadness: 0 = I do not feel sad, 1 = I feel sad much of the time, 2 = I am sad all the time, 3 = I am so sad or unhappy that I can’t stand it and Pessimism: 0 = I am not discouraged about my future, 1 = I feel more discouraged about my future than I used to be, 2 = I do not expect things to work out for me, 3 = I feel my future is hopeless and will only get worse. Item scores were summed to create a composite score, which ranged from 0 to 63 (α = 0.88). Scores of less than 10 indicate minimal depression, 10–18 indicate mild to moderate depression, 19–29 indicate moderate to severe depression, and 30–63 indicate severe depression (Beck et al. 1988).

Perceived stress scale (PSS)

The PSS is used to quantify situations that individuals appraise as stressful in their life (Cohen et al. 1983). It consists of 14 questions assessing how often participants experienced a number of stress-related factors in the past month, such as loss of control (e.g. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?), feeling nervous or stressed (e.g. In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and “stressed”?), and ability to cope (e.g. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?), among others. Items were measured on a five-point scale ranging from “never” (0) to “very often” (4). Items assessing the absence of stress were reverse scored, and item scores were then summed. Scores ranged from 0 to 40, with higher scores indicating higher perceived stress (α = 0.86).

Emotion regulation questionnaire (ERQ)

The ERQ measures individual differences in the habitual use of two emotion regulation strategies: cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression (Gross and John 2003). Participants were asked to respond to statements on a seven-point scale ranging from “strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (7) to statements concerning reappraisal, e.g. When I want to feel less negative emotion, I change the way I’m thinking about a situation, and expressive suppression, e.g. I control my emotions by not expressing them. Item scores for the cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression scales were averaged, and scores ranged from 1 to 7, with higher scores indicating greater reliance on cognitive reappraisal (α = 0.92) and expressive suppression (α = 0.80).

State-trait anxiety inventory trait (STAI-T)

The STAI-T is composed ten items that measure trait anxiety (Spielberger et al. 1983). Participants were asked to indicate the emotions they “generally” feel ranging from “almost never” (1) to “almost always” (4), such as I am inclined to take things hard, I am a steady person, and I feel blue. Items assessing the absence of anxiety were reverse scored, and item scores were then summed. Scores ranged from 20 to 80 with higher scores indicating greater anxiety (α = 0.83).

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Giles, G.E., Cantelon, J.A., Eddy, M.D. et al. Cognitive reappraisal reduces perceived exertion during endurance exercise. Motiv Emot 42, 482–496 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-018-9697-z

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