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31-08-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2020

Cognitive Therapy and Research 1/2020

A Network Approach to Understanding the Emotion Regulation Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Emily E. Bernstein, Alexandre Heeren, Richard J. McNally
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10608-019-10039-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Regular and even single sessions of aerobic exercise may benefit emotional health. Experiments show that prior exercise hastens emotional recovery following a stressor despite not changing reports of rumination or other emotion regulation difficulties. We use network analyses to explore whether traditional approaches for conceptualizing and measuring rumination (i.e. sum scores) could be occluding exercise-induced changes to emotion regulation. Participants (n = 226) were randomly assigned to a cycling (n = 113) or stretching control condition (n = 113). They then underwent a stressful speech task, followed by a recovery period. State rumination was measured through self-report. Graphical LASSO and relative importance networks and accompanying strength centrality indices were computed. Similar patterns emerged in both models. Declines in the strength centrality of self-criticism in the cycling group stood out. Exercise may alter the relations between rumination processes and target self-criticism in particular. This perspective offers important information about how exercise enhances well-being through emotion regulation as well as how to intervene on emotion regulation deficits more generally.

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