Quality of Life Research

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1921–1933 | Cite as

On the associations between physical activity and quality of life: findings from an Australian nationally representative panel survey

  • Francisco Perales
  • Jose del Pozo-Cruz
  • Jesus del Pozo-Cruz
  • Borja del Pozo-Cruz



The purpose of this study is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the associations between the frequency of moderate or vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and quality of life (QoL) measures using longitudinal data and panel regression models on a large, representative sample of the Australian population.


This study used yearly panel data on over 23,000 individuals collected by the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey between 2001 and 2011. Ordinary least squares and fixed effects regression models were used to examine the associations between the weekly frequency of MVPA and several indicators of QoL, including both measures of health-related QoL (such as those derivable from the SF-36) and global subjective well-being assessments (such as self-reported life satisfaction), controlling for observable and unobservable factors.


Our results provided consistent evidence that the frequency of MVPA is related to QoL and proved to be robust. A higher frequency of MVPA was related to higher scores in each of the outcomes analysed and using either of two different estimation strategies. The most pronounced associations emerged between the frequency of MVPA and the physical and vitality dimensions of the SF-36. A change from undertaking no MVPA at all to undertaking such activity once a week was remarkably associated with higher QoL. The influence of MVPA on global life satisfaction was only partially channelled through physical and mental health.


We provide strong evidence that MVPA is related to QoL, thus adding to the large body of scientific literature demonstrating the benefits of becoming physically active.


Physical activity Quality of life SF-36 Life satisfaction Prospective study Fixed effects 



We would like to thank two anonymous referees for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. Their suggestions substantively improved the quality of our work. This paper uses unit record data from the HILDA Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the author and should not be attributed to either DSS or the Melbourne Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Perales
    • 1
  • Jose del Pozo-Cruz
    • 2
  • Jesus del Pozo-Cruz
    • 3
  • Borja del Pozo-Cruz
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Social Science Research, School of Social ScienceThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Journalism IIUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain
  3. 3.Department of Physical Education and SportsUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain
  4. 4.Department of Sport and Exercise SciencesThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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