The effects of aerobic exercise on cardiovascular, facial EMG, and self- report responses to emotional imagery

Academic Article


  • This study examined the effects of exercise on subsequent psychophysiological and self-report responses to emotional imagery, using excitation-transfer theory as a guiding conceptual model. Twenty-four female undergraduates engaged in aerobic exercise (stationary cycling) for 15 minutes, and an equal number of subjects rested quietly for the same time period. All subjects then engaged in anger and sadness imagery trials. Cardiovascular, facial electromyographic, and self-report responses to the imagery were assessed. The results indicated that the subjects in the exercise group showed less peripheral vasoconstriction in response to the imagery than did the quiet rest subjects. Subjects in both groups displayed greater electromyographic activity in the depressor and zygomatic muscle regions during anger than sadness imagery, and subjects in the exercise group tended to show greater corrugator tension during sadness than during anger imagery. Few differences between the groups were found on self-report measures. These findings are discussed with reference to previous research, theoretical implications, and future directions.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Fillingim RB; Roth DL; Cook EW
  • Start Page

  • 109
  • End Page

  • 120
  • Volume

  • 54
  • Issue

  • 1