Physical inactivity is a continuing public health crisis because of its negative effects on health (e.g. hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes). To combat the rising prevalence of these non-communicable diseases, physical activity (PA) promotion is a public health priority. However, current programs seem to be ineffective in the long-term promotion of PA. Resultingly new, effective interventions are needed. Recent studies have established a link between mindfulness and PA engagement. Based on the current literature, the present study sought to investigate the associations between trait mindfulness, behavioral regulation towards exercise, exercise intention, stress, and self-reported PA. This study also examined whether trait mindfulness was independently associated with meeting weekly, leisure-time, moderate-to-vigorous PA [MVPA] recommendations in university undergraduate students after controlling for demographic characteristics, past PA experience, exercise intention, stress, and motivation.
The study used a cross-sectional design and participants consisted of 180 undergraduate university students (aged 18 to 24 years). Participants completed a one-time survey that assessed demographic characteristics, trait mindfulness, behavioral regulation toward exercise, exercise intention, perceived stress and PA. Bivariate associations between the variables were assessed with Pearson or Spearman correlations. A logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine which variables were independently associated with meeting weekly, leisure-time MVPA guidelines. Results of this study found weak positive associations between the mindfulness domain of acceptance and leisure time MVPA ( = .168, p < .05), no associations between mindfulness and transportation PA, and negative associations between mindfulness (MAAS, = –.238, p < .01; acceptance, = –.175, p < .05) and sitting time. Results of logistic regression found that only relative autonomy (OR = 1.085, 95% CI [1.008, 1.168], p = .030) and intention (OR = 2.193, 95% CI [1.533, 3.138], p < .0001) were independently associated with meeting weekly, leisure- time MVPA recommendations. The results of this study show that while there is only a weak direct relationship between trait mindfulness and PA, mindfulness may be related with other factors associated with PA. More research is needed in order to better understand the potential mechanisms behind the results found in this, and past, studies.