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Walk this Way: A Brief Exercise Imagery Intervention Increases Barrier Self-Efficacy in Women


This study investigated whether imaging a brisk walk once a day over a week could increase barrier self-efficacy among women who wanted to increase their exercise behavior. Participants (N = 32, mean age = 31.90 years, SD = 10.17) were randomly allocated to either an imagery rehearsal group or control group. The 4 min 10 s guided imagery script was designed to tap several sources of self-efficacy (e.g., performance accomplishments). The participants completed the Barriers Self-Efficacy Scale (BARSE; McAuley 1992) before and after the intervention. Scores increased significantly for the rehearsal group but not for the control group but these changes were no longer significant after controlling for pre-exercise levels. Results show preliminary evidence that imagery can be used by women to increase their barrier self-efficacy, which in turn may increase the likelihood of successful exercise adherence.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    Coping self-efficacy, and its subtype of scheduling self-efficacy, is conceptually similar to barrier self-efficacy (Rodgers and Sullivan 2001; Ross-Stewart, Short, and Terrance, 2010), and the two terms have been used interchangeably. To avoid confusion, the present study adopts the term barrier self-efficacy.

  2. 2.

    The participants’ ease of imaging was assessed using the 7-point rating scale added to the EIQ (1 = very hard to image; 7 = very easy to image) and the mean of their imagery ability was 3.31 (SD = 1.32).


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Author information

Correspondence to Fredrik Weibull.

Additional information

All authors, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham at Birmingham, UK.

The authors would like to thank Jonathan Whittall, Frances Reed, and Deborah Flitney for their help with participant recruitment and data collection.

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Weibull, F., Cumming, J., Cooley, S.J. et al. Walk this Way: A Brief Exercise Imagery Intervention Increases Barrier Self-Efficacy in Women. Curr Psychol 34, 477–490 (2015).

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  • Barrier self-efficacy
  • Exercise
  • Imagery
  • Intervention
  • Physical activity