Does Self-Efficacy Influence Leg Muscle Pain During Cycling Exercise?

Robert W. Motl, James F. Konopack, Liang Hu, Edward McAuley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This experiment examined the effect of a manipulation of self-efficacy beliefs on perceptions of leg muscle pain during moderate-intensity cycling exercise among women. Low to moderately active college-age women (n = 28) were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 conditions that were designed to either increase or decrease efficacy beliefs for engaging in moderate intensity physical activity. Efficacy was manipulated based on bogus feedback after a maximal incremental exercise test. Within 2-3 days after the efficacy manipulation, participants completed 30 min of cycling on an ergometer at 60% peak oxygen consumption. Perceptions of leg muscle pain, as well as work rate and oxygen consumption, were recorded during exercise. There was an initial relationship between baseline self-efficacy and pain ratings during a maximal incremental exercise test. Although the provision of bogus feedback was effective for manipulating self-efficacy, there was no differential effect on leg muscle pain intensity ratings during the 30 min bout of moderate-intensity cycling. The results imply that our manipulation of self-efficacy for prolonged exercise does not influence leg muscle pain during moderate-intensity exercise among low to moderately active young females. Perspective: We examined the influence of self-efficacy on muscle pain during exercise. Although we did not identify a significant influence of efficacy on pain, our research highlights novel research directions. Future research could potentially help identify self-efficacy as a means of decreasing pain during exercise and ultimately enhancing physical activity participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-307
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Cycling
  • fitness
  • hypoalgesia
  • pain
  • self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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