I Run to Feel Better; so why am I Thinking so Negatively?

Damian M. Stanley, Andrew M. Lane, Tracey J. Devonport, Christopher J. Beedie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study investigated relationships between emotions and emotion regulation strategies employed by runners. Given that athletes and exercisers strive toward personally meaningful goals, sport and exercise settings represent a potentially fruitful context in which emotion regulation could be studied. Volunteer runners (N = 1025) reported recalled emotions experienced and emotion regulation strategies used in the hour before a recent run. Results indicated that using strategies to increase unpleasant emotions was associated with an emotional profile characterized by low scores of pleasant emotions and energetic arousal, and high scores of anger, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotions. Further, using strategies to increase unpleasant emotions was also associated with greater use of strategies to increase pleasant emotions. We argue that individuals will seek to increase the intensity of emotions, even hedonically unpleasant ones such as anger or anxiety, if they believe them useful to the attainment of a goal, thereby exhibiting instrumental emotion regulation. Practitioners should consider assessing the motivational intentions underpinning attempts at emotion regulation prior to exercise, with a particular focus on the use of strategies intended to increase hedonically unpleasant emotions, and their associated performance implications
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-213
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2012


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