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An Exploratory Study: Profiles of Trait Mindfulness and Associations with Intrinsic Motivation and Affective Exercise Experiences

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Trait mindfulness refers to the general ability to be mindful across contexts and times. Affective exercise experience represents the summary affective valence of individuals’ past exercise experiences. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between trait mindfulness and affective exercise experience in a person-centered research approach (latent profiles analysis) and to explore the mediation effect of intrinsic motivation in this relationship.


Participants were 663 college students (58.6% female; Mage = 20.40; SD = 3.13) who completed measures of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Affective Exercise Experiences (AFFEXX) questionnaire, and Behavioral Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ-II) and exercise level (IPAQ).


Four profiles emerged: non-judgmentally aware, moderately mindful, non-reactively observing, and highly mindful. The highly mindful profile demonstrated significantly more positive exercise experiences as well as higher level of intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, the mediation analysis suggested that intrinsic motivation partially mediated the relationship between highly mindful and affective exercise experience, and fully mediated the relationship between non-reactively observing and affective exercise experience, controlling for exercise level.


This research revealed that trait mindfulness is highly associated with individuals’ exercise experience and intrinsic motivation, indicating that mindfulness would be a promising strategy to increase individuals’ positive exercise experiences through improving intrinsic exercise motivation.


This study is not pre-registered.

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All data are available at the Open Science Framework


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Authors and Affiliations



Jiao Liu: conceptualization; data curation; methodology; writing—original draft; writing—review and editing. Sarah Ullrich-French: methodology; writing—review and editing. Yue Qiu: conceptualization; writing—review and editing. Zhi-Xiong Mao: writing—review and editing; supervision; project administration; resources; validation.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zhi-Xiong Mao.

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Ethics Approval

The study was approved by the Beijing Sport University Institutional Review Board and we certify that the study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants before participation.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

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AI was not used for editing the manuscript to improve the English language.

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Liu, J., Ullrich-French, S., Qiu, Y. et al. An Exploratory Study: Profiles of Trait Mindfulness and Associations with Intrinsic Motivation and Affective Exercise Experiences. Mindfulness 14, 2975–2987 (2023).

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