Physical activity in caregivers: What are the psychological benefits?

Samantha M. Loi, Briony Dow, David Ames, Kirsten Moore, Keith Hill, Melissa Russell, Nicola Lautenschlager

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research demonstrates that physical activity has psychological benefits for people of all ages. However, it is unclear whether people caring for a frail or ill relative would derive similar psychological benefits, considering the potentially stressful caregiver role. This article reviews the current literature describing the effect of physical activity interventions on the psychological status of caregivers.A search from January 1975 to December 2012 identified five intervention studies investigating physical activity and psychological status in caregivers. These focused on female Caucasian caregivers who were older than 60 years. The physical activity interventions improved stress, depression and burden in caregivers, but small sample sizes, short-term follow up and varying results limited the generalizability of the findings. There were few trials investigating male caregivers, and most care-recipients were people with dementia.Studies with caregivers of different ages and gender, with a range of physical activity interventions, are needed to clarify whether physical activity has psychological benefits for caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-210
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Caregivers
  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • Psychological health

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