Skip to main content

A Longitudinal Analysis of Physical and Psychological Wellbeing amongst Late Adolescents: Exploring the Transition from School to Postschool Life

  • Carissa J. Martinez (a1), Andrew J. Martin (a1), Gregory Arief D. Liem (a1) and Susan Colmar (a1)

The present longitudinal investigation explored the extent to which physical wellbeing predicts psychological wellbeing in a sample transitioning from school to postschool life. The study comprised 213 young people assessed in their final year of high school (T1) and then one year later (T2). Longitudinal structural equation modeling supported hypothesised paths at each time point, with physical health positively predicting psychological health and perceived life quality and satisfaction. At T2, physical health also positively predicted a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Supplementary analysis showed a significant cross-time effect from T1 psychological health to T2 physical health. Findings hold substantive and practical implications highlighting the importance of multidimensional and integrative approaches to understanding and enhancing the wellbeing of young people who are making the transition from late adolescence to early adulthood.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Professor Andrew J. Martin, Faculty of Education and Social Work, A35 – Education Building, University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia. Email:
Hide All
Andrews F. M., & Withey S. B. (1976). Social indicators of well-being. New York: Plenum.
Arnett J. J. (2004). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from late teens through the twenties. New York: Oxford University Press.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2002). Australia's health 2002: The eighth biennial health report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Canberra, Australia: Author.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2003). Indicators of health risk factors: The AIHW Review. Canberra, Australia: Author.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2008). Injury among young Australians. Canberra, Australia: Author.
Bardwell W., Berry C. C., Ancoli-Israel S., & Dimsdale J. E. (1999). Psychological correlates of sleep apnea. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 47, 583596.
Baumeister R. F. (1991). Meanings of life. New York: Guilford Press.
Berger B. G., & Tobar D. A. (2007). Physical activity and quality of life. In Tenenbaum G. & Eklund R. C. (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (3rd ed., pp. 598620). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Beyond Blue. (2004). Annual report 2003–2004. Melbourne, Australia: Beyond Blue, the National Depression Initiative.
Biddle S. J. H., Fox K. R., & Boutcher S. H. (Eds.). (2000). Physical activity and psychological well-being. London: Routledge.
Biddle S. H. J., & Mutrie N. (2001). Psychology of physical activity: Determinants, well-being and interventions. London: Routledge.
Bize R., Johnson J. A., & Plotnikoff R. C. (2007). Physical activity level and health-related quality of life in the general adult population: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine, 45, 401415.
Bogg T., & Roberts B. W. (2004). Conscientiousness and health-related behaviors: A meta-analysis of the leading behavioral contributors to mortality. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 887919.
Bradburn N. M. (1969). The structure of psychological well-being. Chicago: Aldine.
Byrne B. (1996). Measuring self-concept across the lifespan. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Carless D., & Fox K. R. (2003). The physical self. In Everett T.Donaghy M. & Feaver S. (Eds.), Interventions for mental health (pp. 6981). London: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Caspersen C. J., Pereira M. A., & Curran K. M. (2000). Changes in physical activity patterns in the United States, by sex and cross-sectional age. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32, 16011609.
Chou C. P., & Bentler P. M. (1993). Invariant standardized estimated parameter change for model modification in covariance structure analysis. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 28, 97110.
Colcombe S., & Kramer A. F. (2003). Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: A meta-analytic study. Psychological Science, 14, 125130.
Diener E., Emmons R. A., Larsen R. J., & Griffin S. (1985). The Satisfaction With Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 7175.
Diener E. & Lucas R. E. (1999). Personality and subjective well-being. In Kahneman D.Diener E. & Schwarz N. (Eds.), (Hedonic psychology: Scientific perspectives on enjoyment, suffering, and well-being (pp. 213229). New York: Russell Sage.
Diener E., Kesebir P., & Tov W. (2009). Happiness. In Leary M. R. & Hoyle R. H. (Eds.), Handbook of individual differences in social behavior (pp. 147160). New York: Guilford.
Diener E., Lucas R. E., & Scollon C. N. (2006). Beyond the hedonic treadmill: Revisions to the adaption theory of well-being. American Psychologist, 61, 305314.
Diener E., Suh E. M., Lucas R. E., & Smith H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276302.
Dishman R. K., Washburn R. A., & Heath G. W. (2004). Physical activity epidemiology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Dubbert P. M. (2002). Physical activity and exercise: Recent advances and current challenges. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 526536.
Ekeland E., Heian F., Hagen K. B., Abbott J., & Nordheim L. (2004). Exercise to improve self-esteem in children and young people. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1), Article CD003683.
Emmons R. A. (2005). Striving for the sacred: Personal goals, life meaning, and religion. Journal of Social Issues, 61, 731745.
Erikson E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: Norton.
Fox K. R. (2000). Self-esteem, self-perceptions and exercise. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 31, 228240.
Fredrickson B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218226.
Fredrickson B. L. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking research reveals how to embrace the hidden strength of positive emotions, overcome negativity, and thrive. New York: Crown.
Fuligni A. J., & Hardway C. (2006). Daily variation in adolescents' sleep, activities, and psychological well-being. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16, 353378.
Gibson J. S. (2005). Determinants of impaired quality of life in children with recurrent headache. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 65, 4829.
Ginis K. A. M., Jetha A., Mack D. E., & Hetz S. (2010). Physical activity and subjective well-being among people with spinal cord injury: a meta-analysis. Spinal Cord, 48, 6572.
Ginns P., Liem G. A. D., & Martin A. J. (2011). The role of personality in learning processes and learning outcomes in applied settings. In Boag S. & Tiliopoulos N. (Eds). Personality and individual differences: Theory, assessment, and application (pp. 93102). New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Grewal R., Cote J. A., & Baumgartner H. (2004). Multicollinearity and measurement error in structural equation models: Implications for theory testing. Marketing Science, 23, 519529.
Hamilton N. A., Nelson C. A., Stevens N., & Kitzman H. (2007). Sleep and psychological well-being. Social Indicators Research, 82, 147163.
Hoyle R. H. (Ed.). (1995). Structural equation modeling. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
King L. A., Hicks J. A., Krull J. L., & Gaiso A. K. D. (2006). Positive affect and the experience of meaning in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 179196.
Jean-Louis G., Kripke D. F., & Ancoli-Israel S. (2000). Sleep and quality of well-being. Sleep, 23, 11151121.
Jenkins R., McCulloch A., Friedli L., & Parker C. (2002). Developing a national mental health policy. Hove: Psychology Press.
Jorm A. F., Christensen H., Griffiths K. M., & Rodgers B. (2002). Effectiveness of complementary and self-help treatments for depression. Medical Journal of Australia, 176, 8496.
Jöreskog K. G., & Sörbom D. (2006). LISREL 8.80. Chicago: Scientific Software International.
Jurakić D., Pedišić Ź., & Greblo Z. (2010). Physical activity in different domains and health-related quality of life: A population based study. Quality of Life Research, 19, 13031309.
Kaplan D. (1990). Evaluating and modifying covariance structure models: A review and recommendation (with discussion). Multivariate Behavioral Research, 25, 137155.
Kesaniemi Y. A., Danforth E., Jensen M. D., Kopelman P. G., Lefebvre P., & Reeder B. A. (2001). Dose-response issues concerning physical activity and health: An evidence-based symposium. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33, 351358.
Keyes C. L. M., Shmotkin D., & Ryff C. D. (2002). Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 10071022.
Landers D., & Arent S. (2007). Physical activity and mental health. In Tenenbaum G. & Eklund R. (Eds.), Handbook of Sport Psychology (3rd ed., pp. 469491). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Lee R. E., Nigg C. R., DiClemente C. C., & Courneya K. S. (2001). Validating motivational readiness for exercise behavior with adolescents. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 72, 401410.
Lyubomirsky S. (2001). Why are some people happier than others? The role of cognitive and motivational processes in well-being. American Psychologist, 56, 239249.
Lyubomirsky S., King L., & Diener E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803855.
Maassen G. H., & Bakker A. B. (2001). Suppressor variables in path models: Definitions and interpretations. Sociological Methods & Research, 30, 241270.
MacCallum R. C., & Austin J. T. (2000). Applications of structural equation modeling in psychological research. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 201226.
MacCallum R. C., Roznowski M., & Necowitz L. B. (1992). Model modification in covariance structure analysis: The problem of capitalization on chance, Psychological Bulletin, 111, 490504.
McDonald R. P., & Marsh H. W. (1990). Choosing a multivariate model: Noncentrality and goodness-of-fit. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 247255.
Magnusson D., & Mahoney J. L. (2003). A holistic person approach for research on positive development. In Aspinwall L. G. & Staudinger U. M. (Eds.), A psychology of human strengths: Fundamental questions and future directions for a positive psychology (pp. 227243). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Marsh H. W. (1990). A multidimensional, hierarchical model of self-concept: Theoretical and empirical justification. Educational Psychology Review, 2, 77172.
Marsh H. W., Balla J. R., & Hau K.-T. (1996). An evaluation of incremental fit indices: A clarification of mathematical and empirical processes. In Marcoulides G. A. & Schumacker R. E. (Eds.), Advanced structural equation modeling techniques (pp. 315353). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Marsh H. W., & Hau K.-T. (1996). Assessing goodness of fit: Is parsimony always desirable? The Journal of Experimental Education, 64, 364380.
Marsh H. W., Hau K.-T., & Wen Z. (2004). In search of golden rules: Comment on hypothesis testing approaches to setting cut-off values for fit indexes and dangers in overgeneralising Hu & Bentler's (1999) findings. Structural Equation Modeling, 11, 320341.
Marshall S. J., & Welk G. J. (2008). Definitions and measurement. In Smith A. L. & Biddle S. J. H. (Eds.), Youth physical activity and sedentary behavior: Challenges and solutions (pp. 330). Champagne, IL: Human Kinetics.
Martens M. P., & Haase R. F. (2006). Advanced applications of structural equation modeling in counseling psychology research. The Counseling Psychologist, 34, 878911.
Martin A. J. (2005). Exploring the effects of a youth enrichment program on academic motivation and engagement. Social Psychology of Education, 8, 179206.
Martin A. J. (2008). Enhancing student motivation and engagement: The effects of a multidimensional intervention. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33, 239269.
Martin A. J. (2010). Physical activity motivation in the year following high school: Assessing stability and appropriate analytical approaches. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11, 107113.
Martin A. J. (2011). Prescriptive statements and educational practice: What can structural equation modeling (SEM) offers? Educational Psychology Review, 23, 235244.
Martin A. J., Liem G. A. D., Coffey L., Martinez C., Parker P., Marsh H. W., & Jackson S. (2010). What happens to physical activity behavior, motivation, self-concept, and flow after completing school? A longitudinal study. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 22, 437457.
Martinez C. J., Martin A. J., & Dowson M. (2006, July). Physical health and psychological well-being: Measurement and research. Paper presented at the Fourth International Biennial SELF Research Conference, Ann Arbor, MI.
Menard S. (1991). Longitudinal research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Mutrie N. (2000). The relationship between physical activity and clinically defined depression. In Biddle S. J. H.Fox K. & Boutcher S. H. (Eds.), Physical activity and psychological well-being (pp. 4662). London: Routledge.
Nagyova I, Stewart R. E., Macejova Z., Van Dijk J. P., & Van den Heuvel W. J. (2005). The impact of pain on psychological well-being in rheumatoid arthritis: The mediating effects of self-esteem and adjustment to disease. Patient Education and Counseling, 58, 5562.
Nunnally J. C. (1978). Psychometric theory (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
O'Mara A. J., Marsh H. W., Craven R. G., & Debus R. L. (2006). Do self-concept interventions make a difference? A synergistic blend of construct validation and meta-analysis. Educational Psychologist, 41, 181206.
Parker P. D., Martin A. J., Martinez C. J., Marsh H. W., & Jackson S. (2010). Longitudinal approaches to Stages of Change measurement: Effects on cognitive and behavioral physical activity factors. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 43, 108120.
Pavot W., & Diener E. (1993). Review of Satisfaction With Life Scale. Psychological Assessment, 5, 164172.
Pavot W., & Diener E. (2008). The Satisfaction With Life Scale and the emerging construct of life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 137152.
Penedo F. J., & Dahn J. R. (2005). Exercise and well-being: A review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 18, 189193.
Penny K. I., Purves A. M., Smith B. H., Chambers W. A., & Smith W. C. (1999). Relationship between the chronic pain grade and measures of physical, social and psychological well-being. Pain, 79, 275279.
Plante T. G., & Rodin J. (1990). Physical fitness and enhanced psychological health. Current Psychology: Research & Reviews, 9, 324.
Pressman S. D., & Cohen S. (2005). Does positive affect influence health? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 925971.
Rosel J., & Plewis I. (2008). Longitudinal data analysis with structural equations methodology. Methodology, 4, 3750.
Ryff C. D. (1989a). Beyond ponce de leon and life satisfaction: New directions in quest of successful ageing. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 12, 3555.
Ryff C. D. (1989b). Happiness is everything, or is it? Exploration on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 10691081.
Ryff C. D., & Keyes C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719727.
Ryff C. D., & Singer B. H. (1998). The contours of positive human health. Psychological Inquiry, 9, 128.
Ryff C. D., & Singer B. H. (2008). Know thyself and become what you are: A eudaimonic approach to psychological well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 1339.
Ryff C. D., Singer B. H., & Love G. D. (2004). Positive health: Connecting well-being with biology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B359, 13831394.
Salmon J., Breman R., Fotheringham M., Ball K., & Finch C. (2000). Potential approaches for the promotion of physical activity: A review of the literature. Melbourne, Australia: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.
Sallis J. F. (2000). Age-related decline in physical activity: A synthesis of human and animal studies. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32, 15981600.
Saris W. E., Satorra A., & Sörbom D. (1987). The detection and correction of specification errors in structural equation models. In Clogg C. C. (Ed.), Sociological methodology (pp. 105129). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sawatzky R., Ratner P. A., Johnson J. L., Kopec J. A., & Zumbo B. D. (2010). Self-reported physical and mental health status and quality of life in adolescents: A latent variable mediation model. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 8, 1727.
Schimmack U., & Diener E. (2003). Predictive validity of explicit and implicit self-esteem for subjective well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 100106.
Schnell T., & Becker P. (2005). Personality and meaning in life. Personality and Individual Differences, 41, 117129.
Schwimmer J. B., Burwinkle T. M., & Varni J. W. (2003). Health-related quality of life of severely obese children and adolescents. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289, 18131819.
Seligman M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. New York: Free Press.
Seymour L. (2003). Not all in the mind: The physical health of mental health service users. London: Mentality.
Shields M., & Shoostari S. (2001). Determinants of self-perceived health. Health Reports, 13, 3552.
Sibley B. A., & Etnier J. L. (2003). The relationship between physical activity and cognition in children: A meta-analysis. Pediatric Exercise Science, 15, 243256.
Smith A. L., & Biddle S. J. H. (Eds.). (2008). Youth physical activity and sedentary behavior: Challenges and solutions. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Spence J., McGannon K., & Poon P. (2005). The effect of exercise on global self-esteem: A quantitative review. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 27, 311334.
Steptoe A., O'Donnell K., Marmot M., & Wardle J. (2008). Positive affect, psychological well-being, and good sleep. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64, 409415.
Steger M. F., & Kashdan T. B. (2007). Stability and specificity of meaning in life and life satisfaction over one year. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 161179.
Steger M. F., Kashdan T. B., Sullivan B. A., & Lorentz D. (2008). Understanding the search for meaning in life: Personality, cognitive style, and the dynamic between seeking and experiencing meaning. Journal of Personality, 76, 199228.
Tabachnick B. G., & Fidell L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Telama R., & Yang X. (2000). Decline of physical activity from youth to young adulthood in Finland. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32, 16171622.
Trost S. G. (2005). Discussion paper for the development of recommendations for children's and youths’ participation in health promoting physical activity. Brisbane, Australia: University of Queensland.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Healthy people 2010: Understanding and improving health. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Van Damme S., Crombez G., Van Houdenhove B., Mariman A., & Michielsen M. (2006). Well-being in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: The role of acceptance. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 61, 595599.
Waterman A. S. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 678691.
Waters E. B., Davis E., Nicolas C., Wake M., & Lo S. K. (2008). The impact of childhood conditions and concurrent morbidities on child health and well-being. Child: Care, Health and Development, 34, 418429.
Waters E. B., Salmon L. A., Wake M., Wright M., & Hesketh K. D. (2001). The health and well-being of adolescents: A school-based population study of the self-report Child Health Questionnaire. Journal of Adolescent Health, 29, 140149.
White K., Kendrick T., & Yardley L. (2009). Change in self-esteem, self-efficacy and the mood dimensions of depression as potential mediators of the physical activity and depression relationship: Exploring the temporal relation of change. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 2, 4452.
World Health Organization. (2003). Global health: Today's challenges. In The world health report 2003: Shaping the future (chap. 1). Retrieved from
World Health Organization. (2005). Mental health atlas. Geneva: Author.
WHOQOL Group. (1995). The World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment (WHOQOL): Position paper from the world health organization. Social Science and Medicine, 41, 14031409.
WHOQOL Group. (1998). The World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment (WHOQOL): Development and general psychometric properties. Social Science and Medicine, 46, 15691585.
Youngstedt S. D., O'Connor P. J., & Dishman R. K. (1997). The effects of acute exercise on sleep: A quantitative synthesis. Sleep, 20, 203214.
Yuan K. H. (2005). Fit indices versus test statistics. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 40, 115148.
Zullig K. J., Valois R. F., Huebner E. S., & Drane J. W. (2005). Adolescent health-related quality of life and perceived satisfaction with life. Quality of Life Research, 14, 15731584.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Educational and Developmental Psychologist
  • ISSN: 2059-0776
  • EISSN: 2059-0784
  • URL: /core/journals/educational-and-developmental-psychologist
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 26 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 122 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.