Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Angela D. Bryan


Seventy-five to 95 percent of Americans do not meet recommended levels of physical activity. It is of critical importance that we uncover individual differences regarding long-term adherence to exercise to prevent detrimental health outcomes related to chronic inactivity. This study aimed to identify the influence that the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) val66met polymorphism has on the effect of subjective experience on long-term exercise maintenance. Subjective response to exercise was measured by self-reports of positive affect and perceived pain. Exercise maintenance was measured through self-reported 7-day minutes of voluntary exercise 12 months following intervention. Data were collected from 219 participants and genotypes for the val66met polymorphism were obtained from DNA extracted from saliva. The multivariate regression analysis obtained a significant variance in exercise adherence associated with perceived pain measures accounted for by BDNF genotype. The multivariate regression analyses for positive affect were not statistically significant. The implications of the study suggest a heritable difference in the influence of subjective experience on long-term health behavior outcomes and stress the importance of individually tailored exercise interventions.