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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2011 Dec;45(12):1047-52. doi: 10.3109/00048674.2011.621063. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Don't worry, be active: positive affect and habitual physical activity.

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  • 1Barwon Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, School of Medicine, Deakin University, PO Box 281, Geelong, Victoria 3220, Australia.



The aim of ths study was to examine the association between habitual physical activity and positive and negative affect.


This cross-sectional study included 276 women aged 20 +, from the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. Habitual physical activity and other lifestyle exposures were assessed by questionnaire, concurrent with anthropometric assessments. Physical activity was categorized as very active, moderately active or sedentary. Positive and negative affect scores were derived from the validated 20 item Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) self-report and were categorized into tertiles.


There was a pattern of lower positive affect scores for lower levels of physical activity. With very active as the reference category, the odds for having a positive affect score in the highest tertile were sequentially lower for those who were moderately active (OR = 0.53, 95%CI 0.28-1.01) and sedentary (OR = 0.28, 95%CI 0.10-0.75). Associations were sustained after adjusting for body mass index and polypharmacy (OR = 0.50, 95%CI 0.26-0.96 and OR = 0.25, 95%CI 0.09-0.72, respectively). These associations were not explained by age, negative affect score or other exposures. No association was detected between physical activity and negative affect scores.


This study reports that higher positive affect scores, encompassing emotions such as interest, excitement, enthusiasm and alertness, are associated with higher levels of habitual physical activity. These observations warrant further investigations into possible mechanistic interplay between neurobiological and psychosocial factors that underpin this association.

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