Subjective well-being and exercise in the second halt of life: a critical review of theoretical approaches

Lehnert, Katrin; Sudeck, Gorden; Conzelmann, Achim (2012). Subjective well-being and exercise in the second halt of life: a critical review of theoretical approaches. European review of aging and physical activity, 9(2), pp. 87-102. Springer 10.1007/s11556-012-0095-3

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Research has shown repeatedly that the “feeling better” effect of exercise is far more moderate than generally claimed. Examinations of subgroups in secondary analyses also indicate that numerous further variables influence this relationship. One reason for inconsistencies in this research field is the lack of adequate theoretical analyses. Well-being output variables frequently possess no construct definition, and little attention is paid to moderating and mediating variables. This article integrates the main models in an overview and analyzes how secondary analyses define well-being and which areas of the construct they focus on. It then applies a moderator and/or mediator framework to examine which person and environmental variables can be found in the existing explanatory approaches in sport science and how they specify the influence of these moderating and mediating variables. Results show that the broad understanding of well-being in many secondary analyses makes findings difficult to interpret. Moreover, physiological explanatory approaches focus more on affective changes in well-being, whereas psychological approaches also include cognitive changes. The approaches focus mostly on either physical or psychological person variables and rarely combine the two, as in, for example, the dual-mode model. Whereas environmental variables specifying the treatment more closely (e.g., its intensity) are comparatively frequent, only the social support model formulates variables such as the framework in which exercise is presented. The majority of explanatory approaches use simple moderator and/or mediator models such as the basic mediated (e.g., distraction hypothesis) or multiple mediated (e.g., monoamine hypotheses) model. The discussion draws conclusions for future research.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Psychology and Research Methods

UniBE Contributor:

Lehnert, Katrin, Sudeck, Gorden, Conzelmann, Achim


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment








Corinne Ammann

Date Deposited:

01 Jul 2014 15:42

Last Modified:

08 Dec 2023 16:14

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Well-being, Exercise, Mediation, Moderation, Explanatory approaches




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