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

Ann Behav Med. 2007 Apr;33(2):132-42. doi: 10.1007/BF02879894.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Affect*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Composition
  • Climacteric / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Walking / psychology
  • Yoga / psychology