Psychological determinants of physical activity across the life course: a "determinants of diet and physical activity" (DEDIPAC) umbrella systematic literature review


  • C. Cortis
  • A. Puggina
  • C. Pesce
  • K. Aleksovska
  • C. Buck
  • C. Burns
  • G. Cardon
  • A. Carlin
  • C. Simon
  • D. Ciarapica
  • G. Condello
  • T. Coppinger
  • S. D'Haese
  • M. De Craemer
  • A. Di Blasio
  • S. Hansen
  • L. Iacoviello
  • J. Issartel
  • P. Izzicupo
  • L. Jaeschke
  • M. Kanning
  • A. Kennedy
  • F.C.M. Ling
  • A. Luzak
  • G. Napolitano
  • J.A. Nazare
  • G. O'Donoghue
  • C. Perchoux
  • T. Pischon
  • A. Polito
  • A. Sannella
  • H. Schulz
  • R. Sohun
  • A. Steinbrecher
  • W. Schlicht
  • W. Ricciardi
  • L. Castellani
  • C. MacDonncha
  • L. Capranica
  • S. Boccia


  • PLoS ONE


  • PLoS ONE 12 (8): e0182709


  • Low levels of physical activity (PA) are reported to contribute to the occurrence of non-communicable diseases over the life course. Although psychological factors have been identified as an important category concerning PA behavior, knowledge on psychological determinants of PA is still inconclusive. Therefore, the aim of this umbrella systematic literature review (SLR) was to summarize and synthesize the scientific evidence on psychological determinants of PA behavior across the life course. A systematic online search was conducted on MEDLINE, ISI Web of Science, Scopus, and SPORTDiscus databases. The search was limited to studies published in English from January 2004 to April 2016. SLRs and meta-analyses (MAs) of observational studies investigating the association of psychological variables and PA were considered eligible. Extracted data were evaluated based on importance of determinants, strength of evidence, and methodological quality. The full protocol is available from PROSPERO (Record ID: CRD42015010616). Twenty reviews (14 SLRs and 6 MAs), mostly of moderate methodological quality, were found eligible. Convincing evidence was found for self-efficacy (positive association with PA) in children and adolescents, and stress (negative association with PA) regardless of age. Most of the evidence revealing an association between psychological determinants and PA is probable and limited, mainly due to differences in the definition of PA and of psychological determinants across reviews. Thus, scholars are urged to reach a consensus on clear definitions of relevant psychological determinants of PA, subsuming cultural biases and allowing the possibility to obtain clear interpretations and generalizability of findings. Finally, most psychological determinants should be considered within a larger framework of other multi-level determinants that may interact or mediate some of the effects.