Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Bruce D. Rybarczyk

Second Advisor

Jessica G. LaRose


Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is associated with health behaviors such as low rates of physical activity, overeating, alcohol use, and poor sleep; however, interventions targeting AS via exercise-based interoceptive exposure have not assessed these as outcomes. In addition, previous studies are limited by brief follow-up periods. This study aimed to replicate previous aerobic exercise interoceptive exposures with an extended (6-week) follow-up and measurement of health behaviors.

Participants were 44 sedentary young adults with elevated AS randomized to intervention (6 20-minute sessions of moderate-intensity treadmill walking) or assessment-only control. Assessments took place at baseline, week 2 (post-treatment), week 4, and week 8 with measurements of AS (ASI-3), physical activity (7-Day PAR), sleep (ISI), binge eating, alcohol use, depression (PHQ-8), anxiety (GAD-7), and stress (PSS-4).

The intervention condition demonstrated a marginally significant reduction in AS compared to control at week 4 which eroded by week 8. There were no significant between-group differences for health behavior change. The intervention condition demonstrated decreases in depression, general anxiety, and perceived stress compared to control, but these effects eroded by week 4. There was no difference in findings for participants with BMI<25 vs. those with BMI>=25.

Findings indicate that a brief intervention might not be sufficient to produce lasting changes in AS without additional treatment. Intervention effects were not as strong in this study compared to previous reports, which may be due to the size and greater racial/ethnic diversity of the current sample. Future research should objectively measure physical activity and explore individual variability in treatment response.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission