Exercise effects on mood, and its associations with self-regulatory skills, self-efficacy, and eating changes during the year following weight-loss treatment

James J. Annesi, Kennesaw State University


Maintaining weight loss beyond an initial year of behavioral treatment is of concern, and understanding interrelationships of theory-based psychosocial correlates is minimal. Although exercise is universally suggested, its indirect impacts on long-term nutritional changes are unclear. Data from women with obesity (N= 129), who participated in the treatment groups of two initial trials of a new social cognitive theory-based weight-loss protocol during 2016–2017, were incorporated. The intervention emphasized exercise adherence for two months prior to the next 12 months of biweekly meetings for nutritional change. Effects of exercise-induced changes in mood, and the role of self-regulatory skills in facilitating self-efficacy and improved eating 12–24 months after treatment initiation, were assessed. Change in mood significantly moderated changes in self-regulation for controlled eating by exercise-related self-regulation. During Months 12 to 24, changes in both fruit/vegetable and sweets intake, by self-regulation for eating change, was significantly mediated by change in self-efficacy for controlled eating. Mood change from Months 12 to 24 was significantly associated with change in exercise, with indications that maintaining an equivalent of three days/week had critical value. Findings suggest the importance of bolstering self-regulatory skill usage beyond an initial year of treatment in women.