Physical activity and mental health outcomes during menopause: A randomized controlled trial

Abstract

Background: Many women experience detriments in mental health during the menopausal transition. Physical activity may attenuate these adverse outcomes but few studies investigating such effects exist.Purpose: This study examined the effects of a 4-month randomized controlled exercise trial on mental health outcomes in 164 previously low-active middle-aged women (M age=49.9; SD=3.6).Methods and Results: Participants completed body composition and fitness assessment and a battery of psychological measures at the beginning and end of a 4-month randomized controlled exercise trial with three arms: walking, yoga, control. The results indicated that walking and yoga were effective in enhancing positive affect and menopause-related QOL and reducing negative affect. Women who experienced decreases in menopausal symptoms across the trial also experienced improvements in all positive mental health and QOL outcomes and reductions in negative mental health outcomes. Whether menopausal symptoms increased or decreased across the trial appeared to be determined in part by whether there were increases or decreases in cardiorespiratory fitness.Conclusions: Physical activity appears to enhance mood and menopause-related QOL during menopause, however, other aspects of mental health may be affected only as a result of reduction in menopausal symptoms. Increasing cardiorespiratory fitness could be one way to reduce menopausal symptoms.

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Correspondence to Steriani Elavsky Ph.D..

Additional information

This material is based on work conducted at the University of Illinois and was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health under Award No. MH073255-01, National Institute on Aging under Award No. AG12113, American College of Sports Medicine, Life Fitness Academy, and Paul D. Doolen Scholarship for the Study of Aging.

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Elavsky, S., McAuley, E. Physical activity and mental health outcomes during menopause: A randomized controlled trial. ann. behav. med. 33, 132–142 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02879894

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Keywords

  • Physical Activity
  • Depressive Symptom
  • Life Satisfaction
  • Positive Affect
  • Behavioral Medicine