Brain activation, affect, and aerobic exercise: An examination of both state-independent and state-dependent relationships

Steven J. Petruzzello, Andrew K. Tate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resting electroencephalograph (EEG) asymmetry is a biological marker of the propensity to respond affectively to, and a measure of change in affect associated with, acute aerobic exercise. This study examined the EEG-affect- exercise relationship. Twenty participants performed each of three randomly assigned 30-min conditions: (a) a nonexercise control, (b) a cycling exercise at 55% VO2max, and (c) a cycling exercise at 70% VO2max. EEG and affect were assessed pre- and 0, 5, 10, 20, and 30 min post-condition. No significant results were seen in the control or 55% conditions. In the 70% exercise condition, greater relative left frontal activation preexercise predicted increased positive affect and reduced state anxiety postexercise. Participants (n = 7) with extreme relative left frontal activation post- exercise reported concomitant decreases in anxiety, whereas participants (n = 7) with extreme relative right frontal activation postexercise reported increases in anxiety. These findings (a) replicate prior work, (b) suggest a dose-response intensity effect, and (c) support the idea that exercise is an emotion-eliciting event. Affective responses seem to be mediated in part by differential resting levels of activation in the anterior brain regions. Ongoing anterior brain activation reflected concurrent postexercise affect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-533
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1997


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Affect
  • Brain activation
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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