Background: A considerable portion of daily thought is spent in mind wandering. This behavior has been related to positive (eg, future planning, problem solving) and negative (eg, unhappiness, impaired cognitive performance) outcomes.
Objective: Based on previous research suggesting future-oriented (ie, prospective) mind wandering may support autobiographical planning and self-regulation, this study examined associations between hourly mind wandering and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and the impact of affect and daily sleep on these relations.
Method: College-aged adults (N=33) participated in a mobile phone-delivered ecological momentary assessment study for 1 week. Sixteen hourly prompts assessing mind wandering and affect were delivered daily via participants’ mobile phones. Perceived sleep quality and duration was assessed during the first prompt each day, and participants wore an ActiGraph accelerometer during waking hours throughout the study week.
Results: Study findings suggest present-moment mind wandering was positively associated with future MVPA (P=.03), and this relationship was moderated by affective state (P=.04). Moreover, excessive sleep the previous evening was related to less MVPA across the following day (P=.007). Further, mind wandering was positively related to activity only among those who did not oversleep (P=.007).
Conclusions: Together, these results have implications for multiple health behavior interventions targeting physical activity, affect, and sleep. Researchers may also build on this work by studying these relationships in the context of other important behaviors and psychosocial factors (eg, tobacco use, depression, loneliness).