Examining Physical Activity and Affect Using Objective Measures: A Pilot Study of Anorexia Nervosa

Trisha M. Karr, Ph.D., Brian Cook, Ph.D., Christie Zunker, Ph.D., Li Cao, M.S., Ross D. Crosby, Ph.D., Stephen A. Wonderlich, Ph.D., & James E. Mitchell, M.D.

Affiliation: Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, 120 8th Street, Fargo, ND 58103

Corresponding Author:
Dr. Christie Zunker, 260 River Valley Rd, Atlanta, GA 30328

This pilot study used accelerometers and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to objectively examine physical activity and affect among women suffering from anorexia nervosa (AN). Nine women with AN wore ActiGraphTM accelerometers and completed EMA recordings across seven days. Mixed-effects linear models revealed temporal associations between physical activity and affect within the same day, within the same hour, and within the next hour. Momentary measurement of physical activity and positive affect revealed reciprocal effects, in that physical activity enhanced positive affect, which in turn, facilitated further activity. Findings reflect the utility of objective assessment measures in real time for the link between physical activity and affect among women with AN. The implementation of a tailored physical activity program, coordinated by trained clinical and sports professionals, may be a valuable asset for the treatment of AN.
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