Effects of a six-month walking intervention on depression in inactive post-menopausal women: a randomized controlled trial

Aging Ment Health. 2015;19(6):485-92. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2014.948806. Epub 2014 Aug 18.


Objectives: Physical inactivity and advanced age are associated with risk of depressive disorders. Physical activity can reduce depressive symptoms in older subjects with depressive disorders. We investigated whether a walking intervention program may decrease the occurrence of depressive symptoms in inactive post-menopausal women without depression.

Method: A total of 121 participants aged 57-75 years were randomly assigned to a six-month moderate intensity walking intervention (three times a week, 40 minutes per session, supervised and home-based) or to a control group (waiting list). Inactivity was assessed using the Physical Activity Questionnaire for the Elderly. Depression levels were measured pre- and post-intervention with the Beck depression inventory (BDI). Several baseline measures were considered as possible predictors of post-intervention BDI score.

Results: Participants in the walking intervention showed a significant decrease in depression as compared with controls. Baseline cognitive-BDI subscore, subjective health status, body mass index and adherence were post-intervention BDI score predictors.

Conclusion: A six-month, three-session per week, moderate intensity walking intervention with a minimal 50% adherence rate reduces depression in post-menopausal women at risk for depression due to physical inactivity. This type of walking intervention could be considered as a widely accessible prevention strategy to prevent depressive symptoms in post-menopausal women at risk of depression.

Keywords: depressive disorders; exercise; physical activity; post-menopausal women; predictors; walking.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Personality Inventory
  • Postmenopause / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking* / psychology