Fostering positive affective exercise experiences and affect-related competencies for a physically active lifestyle: The FEEL project

Keywords: affect regulation, exercise experiences, affective responses, motivation, health promotion



Interventions targeting physical inactive individuals have not yielded sufficient impact yet. This may be attributed to two reasons: Firstly, affective processes during physical activity (PA) are often inadequately acknowledged (e. g. shame, feeling bad; Hohberg et al. 2022). Secondly, individuals are often not empowered to PA that positively influences affective wellbeing and mental health (Sudeck & Pfeifer, 2016). The FEEL project addresses these two deficiencies by developing a program promoting pleasant experiences, affect regulation competence, wellbeing and consequently PA.

The program is grounded in Ekkekakis et al.’s (2021) conceptual framework on affective exercise experiences and their antecedent appraisals. It consists of [a] an instructor workshop focused on creating an inclusive, socially supportive atmosphere. Additionally, the program features [b] group exercise sessions covering topics such as attentional focus, preferred intensity, and flexible goal setting. Experiential learning is employed during these sessions, encouraging participants to engage not only physically but also to reflect on and in action. Finally, the program incorporates [c] a PA counseling session, during which participants individual motives for exercise are assessed, and suitable activities are discussed (Schorno et al., 2022).


We plan a multicenter randomized controlled trial to investigate the impact of the 6-8 week FEEL program. Inactive individuals (meeting less than 75% of recommended PA guidelines) in the age of 16 to 35 will take part in the study. Participants will be recruited via schools, universities, companies, and social work institutions. Around 300 people will be assigned to either the intervention or control group. The control group will undergo a standard fitness program (usual care). The primary outcomes positive affective exercise experiences, affect regulation competence, wellbeing and PA will be measured pre- (0 weeks), post-intervention (6 weeks) and at follow-up (12 weeks). After piloting the FEEL program in April 2024, the main study will start in fall 2024.


This study explores the impact of a multifaceted intervention in a primary care context. It may provide valuable insights for effective considerations of affective processes and related competencies in PA programs. Should the FEEL program showcase positive effects, there may be interest in extending its implementation in diverse settings (e.g., rehabilitation).


Ekkekakis, P., Zenko, Z., & Vazou, S. (2021). Do you find exercise pleasant or unpleasant? The Affective Exercise Experiences (AFFEXX) questionnaire. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 55, Article 101930.

Hohberg, V., Kreppke, J.‑N., Cody, R., Guthold, R., Woods, C., Brand, R., Dunton, G., Rothman, A., Ketelhut, S., & Nigg, C. (2022). What is needed to promote physical activity? Current Issues in Sport Science, 7, Article 005

Schorno, N., Gut, V., Conzelmann, A., & Schmid, J. (2022). Effectiveness of individual exercise and sport counseling based on motives and goals: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 44(2), 103-115.

Sudeck, G., & Pfeifer, K. (2016). Physical activity-related health competence as an integrative objective in exercise therapy and health sports – Conception and validation of a short questionnaire. Sportwissenschaft, 46, 74–87.

How to Cite
Buehrer, M., Rosenstiel, S., Sudeck, G., & Schmid, J. (2024). Fostering positive affective exercise experiences and affect-related competencies for a physically active lifestyle: The FEEL project. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 9(2), 033.