Flow in Physical Activity and Exercise: Exploring the Relevance of Mindfulness and Exertion
Experiencing flow in physical activity is associated with intrinsic motivation and has proven to be a highly rewarding state of mind (Csikszentmihalyi, 2008). Facilitating flow experiences among regular exercisers can be beneficial in terms of promoting long-term physical activity engagement. In a longitudinal study we explored possible factors predicting flow experiences in exercisers by measuring dispositional flow in physical activity and flow state during running sessions. Additionally, we included a small mindfulness intervention to explore the relevance of mindfulness in flow experiences. We recruited a sample of 103 participants, inviting them to a running study where they were asked to conduct a running session once a week for a period of six weeks and reporting in a short questionnaire after every running session. The activity reports measured perceived exertion, flow, and contextual variables. The sample were randomly assigned into two groups, one intervention group (n = 51) and one control group (n = 52). The intervention group were given instructions to practice a short mindfulness-based exercise (i.e., breathing exercise) prior to every running session. In addition to the activity reports, participants were asked to answer a longer questionnaire as pre- and post-measures assessing flow dispositions, activity level, general tendencies to mindfulness, general health, life satisfaction, personal growth, and demographic variables. Our results indicated that regular exercisers certainly experience flow during strenuous exercise if the overall experience of the physical activity episode is positively evaluated.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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