Exercise Psychology

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Exercise Psychology

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    Health and Exercise Science, Psychology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    PHSE 334

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    An examination of how psychological factors can affect participation in exercise and physical activity, and how exercise and physical activity can influence psychological parameters and health outcomes.

    Physical inactivity is a global public health problem, and the World Health Organisation has recognised that increasing participation in physical activity is a priority to enhance public health. The content in PHSE 336 examines the important role of psychology in the process of helping individuals make changes to their physical activity behaviour. Specifically, the paper examines the psychological theory that explains the process of physical activity behaviour change, from initial adoption to long-term maintenance. Through critical analysis of research evidence, the effectiveness of physical activity interventions based around these psychological theories is examined.

    A second component of PHSE 336 is to study the psychological outcomes that result from participation in physical activity. Specifically, research evidence demonstrating the relationship between physical activity and the treatment of mental ill-health (e.g. depression, anxiety) and the promotion of psychological well-being (e.g. self-esteem, mood and emotions) will be addressed. An applied approach will be taken throughout PHSE 336 to ensure that the theoretical principles and other factors that are studied are put into a practical context so as to develop the skills required of a physical activity practitioner.

    Course Structure
    The paper covers five topics:

    • Introduction to the exercise psychology and research methods employed
    • The psychological responses to physical activity: depression, anxiety, self-esteem and body image, affect and potential negative outcomes (e.g. exercise dependence)
    • The role of motivation in physical activity behaviour change, drawing from self-determination theory, self-efficacy theory and theory of planned behaviour
    • Skills and techniques for conducting successful physical activity behaviour change consultations
    • Design and evaluation of psychologically based physical activity interventions

    Learning Outcomes
    On completing the paper students should demonstrate:

    • An in-depth understanding of current research evidence relating to the role of physical activity in the treatment of mental ill-health, promotion of psychological well-being and the proposed mechanisms behind why physical activity can improve psychological health
    • An in-depth understanding of the process of physical activity behaviour change from adoption to maintenance from the perspective of key socio-cognitive theories
    • A critical understanding of how psychological theory informs the design and implementation of exercise interventions and underpins the work of a physical activity specialist
    • The ability to use the skills and strategies required of an exercise consultant to facilitate behaviour change in his/her clients

Course Disclaimer

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Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.