Exercise Psychology

women walking for healthWho we are

We are a group of creative and dedicated individuals interested in getting more people to do more activity.  There are students in masters and PhD programs directing their own research projects as well as helping a variety of academic staff complete their projects.

What we do

We study factors that influence initiation and adherence to physical activity – and more specifically – to planned exercise.

Our projects

We have a large number of projects on the go of various sizes.


Our biggest projects are team-based and include researchers from the behavioural medicine group and the biological group in the Faculty.

Through our multidisciplinary collaboration, we are able to look at both the physiological and psychological effects of different types of exercise in different populations.

How we do it

We use a variety of social cognitive theories to determine what might be likely influences on motivation to keep going with activity.

Our current favourites are self-efficacy, theory of planned behaviour, and self-determination theories.

Because we are also interested in the outcomes of exercise, we collaborate with our biologically based colleagues in studying

    • fitness,
    • blood lipids and glucose,
    • in addition to exercise behaviour,
    • physical self-perception as well as the variables mentioned above.

    We use rigorous measurement and procedures to keep our projects as high quality as possible. We prefer to encourage people to initiate exercise programs and then we follow them as they try to adhere. We frequently use experimental designs to contrast the effects of different kinds of training and different kinds of incentives or psychological interventions.

    Why do we do it?

    We think that exercise is an important element in the maintenance or rehabilitation of good health. We also firmly believe that it is possible to find a type of exercise program that will appeal to those individuals for whom it is targeted.  By thoroughly considering both the physical and psychological demands of exercise participation – we feel we will be able to make empirically based recommendations about the best way to both encourage and ultimately achieve health potential through exercise.

    Who supports us?

    Many small projects have been funded by

    • the University of Alberta through the Endowment Fund for the Future
    • and through the Humanities, Fine Arts and Social Sciences Research Fund

    Our major projects are funded by

    • the Canadian Institutes of Health Research,
    • and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada