Are total, intensity- and domain-specific physical activity levels associated with life satisfaction among university students?

Željko Pedišić, Zrinka Greblo, Philayrath Phongsavan, Karen Milton, Adrian E Bauman

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31 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Thorough information about the relationship between physical activity (PA) and life satisfaction is still lacking. Therefore, this study examined the cross-sectional relationships between life satisfaction and meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) moderate to vigorous-intensity PA recommendations, total volume and duration of PA, intensity-specific PA (walking, moderate- and vigorous-intensity), domain-specific PA (work, transport-related, domestic, and leisure-time), and 11 domain and intensity-specific PA types among university students. Additionally, we examined the associations between life satisfaction and gender, age, disposable income, community size, smoking, alcohol intake, body mass index (BMI), and self-rated health.

METHODS: The study included a random sample of 1750 university students in Zagreb, Croatia (response rate = 71.7%; 62.4% females; mean age 21.5 ± 1.8 years), using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-long form and the Satisfaction with Life Scale.

RESULTS: Higher life satisfaction was associated with female gender (β = 0.13; p = <0.001), younger age (β = -0.07; p = 0.024), higher disposable income (β = 0.10; p = 0.001), and better self-rated health (β = 0.30; p = <0.001). No significant association was found between life satisfaction and size of community (p = 0.567), smoking status (p = 0.056), alcohol consumption (p = 0.058), or BMI (p = 0.508). Among all PA variables, only leisure-time vigorous-intensity PA was significantly associated with life satisfaction after adjustments for socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle and self-rated general health (β = 0.06; p = 0.045).

CONCLUSIONS: This study indicated a weak positive relationship between leisure-time vigorous-intensity PA and life satisfaction, whilst no such association was found for other PA variables. These findings underscore the importance of analyzing domain and intensity-specific PA levels in future studies among university students, as drawing conclusions about the relationship between PA and life satisfaction based on total PA levels only may be misleading.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0118137
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Sex Factors
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult

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