Mindfulness and physical activity: a systematic review and hierarchical model of mindfulness

Chih Hsiang Yang, David E. Conroy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Individual differences in mindfulness have attracted interest for their potential to facilitate physical activity and reveal mechanisms of physical activity motivation. The objective of this paper was to review research on associations between trait and state forms of mindfulness and physical activity. A systematic search using the PRISMA guide was carried out in three major databases and Google Scholar, and 13 articles were identified for final synthesis. Eligible studies primarily employed non-experimental research designs with self-report measures. Most of the studies focused on trait rather than state mindfulness. Ten out of the 13 studies reported significant positive associations between mindfulness and physical activity; however, there is a high risk of bias in this literature. The available evidence supported a positive association between trait mindfulness and physical activity and confirmed a large gap in research on state mindfulness and physical activity. A three-level, hierarchical framework was proposed to differentiate trait (i.e. global) mindfulness from two forms of state (i.e. contextual and situational) mindfulness. Priorities for future research include developing harmonised level-specific mindfulness measures, conducting longitudinal and experimental studies, and translating emerging evidence into interventions to promote physical activity and public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-817
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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