The effects of distraction on the perception of exercise-induced symptoms

Roger B. Fillingim, David L. Roth, William E. Haley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of distraction tasks varying in attentional demand on the perception of exercise-induced symptoms and on exercise performance. Tasks were constructed to vary in attentional demand but not in emotional engagement in order to isolate the former. Sixty females rode a bicycle ergometer while they participated in one of three experimental conditions: high demand distraction, low demand distraction, or no systematic distraction. Measures of mood, perceived exertion during exercise, physical symptoms following exercise, and timed riding tolerance were collected and analyzed. Level of distraction had little effect on mood, which confirmed that the tasks were not differentially emotionally arousing. Contrary to theoretical predictions, level of distraction led to no differences in exercise performance or symptom reports across the three groups. Limitations of the 'competition of cues' explanation for the efficacy of distraction as an intervention to reduce symptom perception and increase exercise performance are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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