Physical activity and psychological well-being in advanced age: a meta-analysis of intervention studies

Psychol Aging. 2005 Jun;20(2):272-84. doi: 10.1037/0882-7974.20.2.272.


A meta-analysis examined data from 36 studies linking physical activity to well-being in older adults without clinical disorders. The weighted mean-change effect size for treatment groups (d(C). = 0.24) was almost 3 times the mean for control groups (d(C). = 0.09). Aerobic training was most beneficial (d(C). = 0.29), and moderate intensity activity was the most beneficial activity level (d(C). = 0.34). Longer exercise duration was less beneficial for several types of well-being, though findings are inconclusive. Physical activity had the strongest effects on self-efficacy (d(C).= 0.38), and improvements in cardiovascular status, strength, and functional capacity were linked to well-being improvement overall. Social-cognitive theory is used to explain the effect of physical activity on well-being.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Behavior