Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Get ACTive! A pilot acceptance and commitment therapy workshop

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Robert Carels (Advisor)

Second Advisor

William O'Brien (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Tim Brackenbury (Other)


Physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors independently contribute to the rise in preventable chronic illnesses and a decrease in overall wellbeing and workplace productivity. As a result, efforts to intervene and reverse the negative health, wellbeing, and occupational impact through movement promotion and physical activity interventions are imperative. This pilot randomized control trial compared an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) approach to a traditional Education approach. All participants (ACT: N = 17; Education: N = 19) completed a four hour workshop with a three month follow-up. The current study found that both workshops positively and significantly impacted self-reported physical activity (minutes per week and days per week), satisfaction with life, feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, job burnout, work role overload, ratings of their coworkers and opportunities for promotion, as well as psychological flexibility and mindfulness. While there were few differences between the ACT and Education approaches, the ACT workshop participants increased their satisfaction with their job relative to Education workshop participants. Additionally, analyses approaching significance suggest that both workshops demonstrated increases in minutes of exercise per day. An interaction effect that approached significance revealed that ACT participants increased their pedometer steps per day from baseline to follow-up while Education participants decreased their steps per day. While more research is needed, these preliminary findings support an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy approach for physical inactivity and sedentary behavior intervention as a promising alternative to traditional educational activity programs.