Optimising the effects of physical activity on mental health and wellbeing: A joint consensus statement from Sports Medicine Australia and the Australian Psychological Society

Publication Name

Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport


Objectives: This consensus statement from Sports Medicine Australia and the Australian Psychological Society aims to provide guidance to practitioners on the ways that physical activity can be promoted to maximise benefits to mental health. Methods: Following the Clinical Consensus Statement protocol, an expert group comprised of eight members with expertise in physical activity and mental health articulated recommendations regarding five physical activity contextual factors: type, physical environment, delivery, domain, and social environment. Results: To optimise the mental health benefits of physical activity, we recommend: i) activity selection be guided by factors associated with adherence and enjoyment as opposed to any specific type (type); ii) facilitators (i.e., teachers, coaches, instructors, practitioners) deliver organised physical activity sessions using an instructional style that satisfies individuals' basic needs for autonomy, competence and social connection (delivery); iii) participation in physical activity with others who provide support, facilitate positive interactions, or make people feel valued, so long as it does not undermine a preference to be active alone (social environment); iv) where possible and appropriate, some physical activity should be undertaken outside in pleasant natural environments (physical environment); and, v) at least some physical activity be undertaken during leisure-time or via active travel, where possible prioritising activities one personally chooses to undertake (domain). Conclusions: The type, domain, physical and social environment of physical activity, as well as the way in which it is delivered, will determine mental health outcomes. Practitioners can use these recommendations to optimise the effects of physical activity on mental health.

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National Health and Medical Research Council



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