The Relationship Between Physical Activity and Self-Compassion: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Ming Yu Claudia Wong*, Pak Kwong Chung, Ka-Man Leung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: According to the mental health service recommendations from WHO, self-care is the basis for tackling psychological concerns. Although self-esteem has been a symbolic self-driven psychological factor that could generate significant positive well-being and associated with physical activity (PA), self-esteem’s negative effects have been criticized by the advocation of self-compassion (SC). Therefore, with both PA and SC have been found to be effective in achieving positive psychological health, they are expected to show a relationship to cope with people’s mental health problems. Methods: To fully study the relationship, a concrete systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to review the relationship between PA and SC. The meta-analysis outcome was obtained by the pooled correlation coefficient using the random effects model, and meta-regression with mixed-effect models were used to determine the moderate effects. Results: A total of 25 studies, with n = 5622 samples, were included. Ten studies examined the association between PA and SC; five studies examined the association between PA regulation and SC; and six RCT studies and four single group repeated measure studies examined the effect of PA on SC. The random effects model demonstrated a significant effect size on the overall relationship between PA and SC (r = 0.26), with significant heterogeneity. Subgroup analysis showed the significant effect sizes on four types of relationship, with r = 0.19, r = 0.273 and r = 0.34, r = 0.273, respectively. All potential sources of heterogeneity, including age, gender, study design and risk of bias, showed no moderating effect on the relationship. Conclusion: The relationship between PA and SC was significant while investigating the effect of non-mind-and-body interventions and constructing a mechanism of PA and SC can be done as future implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-563
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Early online date9 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Physical activity
  • Regulated health-related behaviour
  • Self-compassion


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