Physical activity, menopause, and quality of life: the role of affect and self-worth across time

Menopause. 2009 Mar-Apr;16(2):265-71. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31818c0284.


Objective: Physical activity has been shown to enhance quality of life (QOL); however, few investigations of these effects exist in women undergoing the menopausal transition. The present study examined the long-term effects of physical activity on menopause-related QOL and tested the mediating effects of physical self-worth and positive affect in this relationship.

Methods: Middle-aged women previously enrolled in a 4-month randomized controlled trial involving walking and yoga, and a control group completed a follow-up mail-in survey 2 years after the end of the trial. The survey included a battery of psychological and physical activity measures, including measures of menopausal symptoms and menopause-related QOL. Longitudinal linear panel analysis was conducted within a covariance modeling framework to test whether physical self-worth and positive affect mediated the physical activity-QOL relationship over time.

Results: At the end of the trial, physical activity and menopausal symptoms were related to physical self-worth and positive affect, and in turn, greater levels of physical self-worth and positive affect were associated with higher levels of menopause-related QOL. Analyses indicated that increases in physical activity and decreases in menopausal symptoms over the 2-year period were related to increases in physical self-worth (betas = 0.23 and -0.52, physical activity and menopausal symptoms, respectively) and, for symptoms, also to decreased positive affect (beta = -0.47), and both physical self-worth (beta = 0.34) and affect (beta = 0.43) directly influenced enhancements in QOL (R = 0.775).

Conclusions: The findings support the position that the effects of physical activity on QOL are mediated, in part, by intermediate psychological outcomes and that physical activity can have long-term benefits for women undergoing the menopausal transition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept*