Physical activity and sense of coherence: a meta-analysis

Susette A. Moyers, Martin S. Hagger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The salutogenic model of health proposes that sense of coherence, a multi-dimensional construct representing individuals’ perceptions that their environment is comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful, is a key determinant of stress management and well-being. Generalized resistance resources such as preventive health orientation, material resources, and social support are proposed as determinants of sense of coherence. Health behaviors, particularly physical activity, are proposed as indicators of a preventive health orientation and predictors of sense of coherence. We synthesized research on the relationship between physical activity and sense of coherence using three-level meta-analysis, and tested effects of key moderators of the relationship. Database and manual searches identified 52 studies meeting inclusion criteria with 73 effect sizes testing the relationship. The analysis revealed a small non-zero physical activity-sense of coherence correlation with significant heterogeneity. Demographic variables, version of sense of coherence scale, physical activity measure, study design and quality, physical activity intensity, and time lag did not moderate the correlation. Findings suggest a robust but small correlation between physical activity participation and sense of coherence across studies. Studies that test the relationship using experimental or intervention designs, adopt more precise measures, and include measures of other health behaviors and generalized resistance resources are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-285
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • exercise
  • generalized resistance resources
  • health behavior
  • physical activity
  • salutogenic model of health
  • Sense of coherence


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