Does Emotion Regulation Predict Gains in Exercise-Induced Fitness? A Prospective Mixed-Effects Study with Elite Helicopter Pilots
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Emotion regulationMilitaryTrainingPhysical activityFitness
Cárdenas, D., Madinabeitia, I., Alarcón, F., & Perales, J. C. (2020). Does Emotion Regulation Predict Gains in Exercise-Induced Fitness? A Prospective Mixed-Effects Study with Elite Helicopter Pilots. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(11), 4174. [DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17114174]
SponsorshipMinisterio de Economia y Competitividad, Spain DEP2013-48211-R; Spanish Government (Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad, Secretaria de Estado de Investigacion, Desarrollo e Innovacion) PSI2017-85488-P; Spanish Government (Convocatoria 2017 de Proyectos I+D de Excelencia, Spain) PSI2017-85488-P; European Union (EU) PSI2017-85488-P
Emotion regulation (ER) is a strong predictor of different aspects of mental health and wellbeing. However, only recently has ER been examined in relation to physical activity and its effects on fitness. In the present study, 26 elite helicopter pilots, serving in the Spanish Air Force, were physically trained for 6 months, and their level of fitness (maximum oxygen consumption and time to exhaustion in a treadmill-running test) was assessed before and after that period. Additionally, two indices of emotion regulation (general adaptiveness of ER strategies, as measured by the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ), and negative urgency, as measured by the UPPS-P questionnaire) measured at baseline were used as prospective predictors of fitness improvement. After controlling for individual features, baseline fitness, and type of training, better emotion regulation strategies (more cognitive reappraisal plus less expressive suppression) predicted larger fitness gains (p = 0.028). Incidental emotion regulation, as measured by the negative urgency index, failed to predict pre–post-fitness changes (p = 0.734). These results suggest that fostering emotion regulation skills may improve the effectiveness of fitness training programs.