UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Prosocial exercise : does exercising for charity result in greater well-being and physical activity? Kaulius, Megan Maureen


Physical inactivity is a prevalent problem, with few Canadians active enough to accrue the health-related benefits associated with exercise (Colley et al., 2011). In response to ineffective physical activity promotion efforts, recent work suggests focussing on well-being as an outcome of exercise to better promote such behaviour (Segar, Eccles, Richardson, 2011; Segar & Richardson, 2014). While hedonic well-being has been reliably linked to increased physical activity behaviour (Rhodes, Fiala, & Conner, 2009), less is understood about the possible effects of eudaimonic well-being on exercise engagement. As prosocial behaviour has been linked to increased hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, and as prosocial motivation has been identified as a powerful means of behaviour change, prosocial exercise (engaging in physical activity to benefit others) may produce increases in well-being and future physical activity behaviour. In order to test this hypothesis, participants were recruited to take part in a six-week experiment, whereby half of the participants were randomly assigned to a prosocial exercise condition (and used the prosocial exercise app, ‘Charity Miles’), and half were randomly assigned to a personal exercise condition (and utilized a standard exercise app, Nike+ Running). Participants’ eudaimonic and hedonic well-being was assessed at baseline, two weeks following baseline, and before and after each use of the exercise app (i.e., at the bout-level). Exercise behaviour was assessed at baseline, two and six weeks following baseline, and after each use of the exercise app. It was hypothesized that the participants in the prosocial exercise condition would report greater exercise engagement and eudaimonic and hedonic well-being compared to participants in the personal exercise condition. Multilevel modelling analyses involving data at the bout-level revealed that participants in the prosocial exercise condition reported greater well-being and exercise behaviour compared to those in the personal exercise condition; however, this relationship was only evident when participation occurred in the winter, and not the summer months. As such, this study pointed to the potential effectiveness of utilizing prosocial exercise interventions when environmental barriers to physical activity engagement are present.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International