Physical activity is beneficial for human physical health and well-being.
Accordingly, the association between physical activity and mood in everyday life
has been a subject of several Ambulatory Assessment studies. This mechanism has
been studied in children, adults, and the elderly, but neglected in adolescents. It is
critical to examine this mechanism in adolescents because adolescence plays a key
role in human development and adolescents’ physical activity behavior translates
into their behavior in adulthood. We investigated adolescents’ mood in relation to
distinct physical activities: incidental activity such as climbing stairs; exercise
activity, such as skating; and sports, such as playing soccer. We equipped 134
adolescents aged 12-17 years with accelerometers and GPS-triggered electronic
diaries to use in their everyday life. Adolescents reported on mood repeatedly in
real time across 7 days, and these data were analyzed using multilevel-modeling.
After incidental activity, adolescents felt better and more energized. After exercise,
adolescents felt better but less calm. After sports, adolescents felt less energized.
Analyses of the time course of the effects confirmed our findings. Physical activity
influences mood in adolescents’ everyday life, but has distinct effects depending on
the kind of physical activity. Our results suggest incidental and exercise activities
entail higher post-bout valence compared to sports in competitive settings. These
findings may serve as an important empirical basis for the targeted application of
distinct physical activities to foster well-being in adolescence.