Listening to the body for insight: Body-focused attention predicts exercising over time


Prominent theories argue that attention directed to oneself prompts self-evaluation processes, which involve cognitive or affective responses that can impact behavior. This study examined whether self-reported body-focused attention while exercise predicts exercise behavior among active adults who differ in how consistently they exercise. Body-focused attention was hypothesized to be positively associated with exercise frequency for consistent exercisers, while it was predicted to be inversely related to exercise participation for individuals with inconsistent and no exercise patterns. METHODS. 72 students (22.5±4.7 yrs) completed measures at baseline, 4, and 8-weeks post-baseline. RESULTS. As expected, body-focused attention was associated with increased exercise frequency for the consistent exercisers and decreased exercise frequency for the inconsistent exercisers. Body-focused attention was not related to exercise frequency for individuals with no exercise pattern. CONCLUSION. Optimizing body-focused attention through psychological strategies could have implications for positive exercise outcomes, particularly for individuals with inconsistent exercise patterns.