Investigating the relationships between self-compassion, physical activity and happiness within physical activity counselling


Physical activity counselling (PAC) is an evidence-based approach that has been shown to increase physical activity and reduce depressive symptoms in female students over time (McFadden et al., 2017). Moreover a feasibility paper found that PAC led to increases in physical activity and mental health in university students (McFadden, submitted for review). However, levels of self-compassion and happiness within PAC, and their relationships with physical activity have yet to be explored. Thus, the purpose of the study is to investigate levels of self-compassion, physical activity, and happiness during PAC, as well as the relationships between self-compassion and happiness, self-compassion and physical activity, and physical activity and happiness. The study followed an experimental design involving online surveys pre- and post-intervention. Average self-compassion, physical activity, and happiness levels of thirty individuals were M = 2.52 ± 0.54 (Self-Compassion Scale; total score of 5), M = 7.13 ± 8.76 (Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire; a score < 24 = insufficiently active), and M = 16.87 ± 0.55 (Subjective Happiness Scale; total score of 28), respectively. Preliminary results revealed a strong correlation between self-compassion and happiness pre-intervention (r = 0.536, p = 0.002), indicating that individuals entering the program that are more self-compassionate are happier. No significant relationships were found between self-compassion and physical activity and physical activity and happiness. This study will further our understanding of the relationships between key constructs such as self-compassion and happiness within PAC, which will therefore help to refine and guide its future implementation.