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Original Article

The Relationship Between Physical Activity, Health, and Well-Being

Type of Exercise and Self-Connection as Moderators

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1027/2512-8442/a000070

Abstract.Background: Most people are comfortable asserting the beneficial effects of physical exercise on mental health and well-being. However, little research has examined how different types of physical activity affect these outcomes. Aims: The current study sought to provide a comprehensive understanding of the differential relationships between different types of physical activity and various aspects of health and well-being. In addition, we sought to understand the role of self-connection in these relationships. Method: One hundred forty-three participants completed a questionnaire designed to measure their current weekly activity as well as their current health and well-being. Specifically, we examined three intensities of activity (walking, moderate, and vigorous) and three types of activity (team-based, community-based, and not team nor community-based) on self-reported health, anxiety, depression, affect, flourishing, job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and meaning in life. In addition, we examined self-connection as a possible moderator of these relationships. Results: Results suggested that physical activity was inconsistently related to health and well-being, and activity intensity and type were important to understanding these relationships. In contrast, self-connection reliably related to health and well-being and moderated the relationship between activity type and the presence of meaning. Limitations: The cross-sectional, self-report nature of the study limits its contribution. In addition, we only examined a subset of all physical activities that people engage in. Conclusion: In all, results suggest that the relationships between physical activity, mental health, and well-being are tenuous, at best. Future research needs to examine these relationships further and continue to examine self-connection to determine how to best increase health and well-being through physical activity.

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