Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Salmoni, Alan W.


The purpose of this dissertation was to understand how specific factors can be manipulated to affect participant’s experience with physical activity (PA). Three studies were conducted. Study 1 was a comprehensive review, examining specific factors and measures that can be used to study the affective experience of PA participants. For Study 2, several focus group interviews were conducted, and a questionnaire distributed to Kinesiology students (n = 113) to determine how music affects PA participants. The qualities of songs provided were analysed. Finally, the purpose of Study 3 was to use the motivational playlist from Study 2 and determine whether adding music and choice of music resulted in participant’s (n = 20) enhanced pleasure and perceived exertion during a simulated stress test on a treadmill.

Study 1 resulted in the development of a list of five factors that can be manipulated in future research and applied practically to PA situations: psychological hedonism (intensity), music, principles of flow theory, playfulness (through choice), and social interaction. A list of recommendations to professionals in the health and fitness industry was provided.

Results from Study 2 indicated that university students all listen to music, but for various reasons and during different circumstances. Participants reported using music to relieve boredom, enhance their mood, and aid their exercise experience. During aerobic exercise, participants prefer to listen to music 120 bpm, and songs 120 bpm during strength-based exercise. Leisure PA are preferred when accompanied by songs that are both slow and in the minor chord. Furthermore, females prefer pop songs and males prefer rap/hip-hop during PA. Vast individual preferences emerged.

Findings from Study 3 revealed music enhances participant’s PA experience. As intensity increased, participant’s arousal increased, and enjoyment decreased. Music did not affect perceived exertion or continued intention, but did positively affect participant’s post-exercise enjoyment scores. Choice did not have a significant effect.

This dissertation confirms the necessity of studying the affective responses to PA and suggests several future studies. In conclusion, encouraging participants to enjoy PA and find autonomy and intrinsic motivation with specific activity is crucial to PA adherence.