The role of pain catastrophizing, body mass index, and sex in exercise rates among participants in an organizational wellness program

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University of Alabama Libraries

Maladaptive cognitions that emerge in response to exercise-related pain detract from sports participation among athletes, yet these same cognitive patterns have not been widely studied among individuals engaging in non-competitive physical activity. The present study examined pain catastrophizing - a cognitive construct that is characterized as a `negative mental set' that may be adopted in the face of pain stimuli--among participants engaged in an organizational wellness program. The primary aim was to determine if either dispositional or situational pain catastrophizing predict exercise rates among these participants. Additionally, this investigation examined exercise rates and pain catastrophizing among two groups that have historically had lower rates of physical activity: individuals with obesity and women. Participants were 373 faculty and staff members at the University of Alabama who were participating in Crimson Couch to 5K, a program that trains individuals to run or walk a 5K event at the end of 9 weeks. Participants completed measures at the beginning, middle, and end of the program, which assessed pain catastrophizing, biometric information, aerobic exercise rates, and a range of health-related variables. Neither dispositional nor situational pain catastrophizing predicted exercise rates at the conclusion of the program. There were no differences in exercise rates or pain catastrophizing between men and women. However, BMI predicted a small percentage of the variance for baseline exercise rates as well as dispositional and situational catastrophizing. Future research will encompass the development of a new measure to assess a broader and more applicable range of negative cognitions that emerge in response to exercise-related pain.

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Clinical psychology