Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Raymond Fleming


Exercise has long been known to promote psychological well-being and resilience against stress. More recently, research has shown that habitual exercisers who are deprived of exercise experience negative psychological changes as a result. It is not completely known how planned non-exercise (“rest”) days affect exercisers affectively, physiologically, or behaviorally, nor how factors like exercise dependence or cognitive appraisal may moderate these effects. This study used an in situ methodology to monitor stress in 18 runners on a run day and a rest day, in comparison to 21 non-exercising controls who ran on neither day. Stress was assessed via affective self-reports, ambulatory physiological measurements, and performance on a timed arithmetic task. Exercise dependence and appraisal of rest days was also assessed in the sample. It was hypothesized that runners would exhibit greater stress responses on the rest day than the run day, and that runners with higher levels of exercise dependence and more negative appraisals of rest days would exhibit greater changes in stress between the two days. Results showed that runners reported less positive affect and more negative affect on the rest day than the run day, and that levels of high frequency heart rate variability decreased over time on the rest day. Degree of exercise dependence was found to moderate the affective changes. The study indicates that runners experience negative affective and physiological changes on their rest days, and that exercise dependence can exacerbate these effects.

Included in

Psychology Commons