Objective: Postmenopausal women, despite their increased cardiovascular risk, do not meet physical activity recommendations. Outdoor exercise bouts induce more positive affective responses than the same indoor exercise. Outdoor training could therefore increase exercise adherence. This study aims to compare the long-term effects of outdoor and indoor training on affective outcomes and adherence to exercise training in postmenopausal women.
Methods: In a 12-week randomized trial, 23 healthy (body mass index, 22-29 kg/m) postmenopausal women (aged 52-69 y) were assigned to either outdoor training or indoor training and performed three weekly 1-hour sessions of identical aerobic and resistance training. Adherence, affective valence (Feeling Scale), affective states (Exercise-Induced Feeling Inventory), and rating of perceived exertion were measured during exercise sessions, whereas depression symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) and physical activity level (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly) were assessed before and after the intervention.
Results: After 12 weeks of training, exercise-induced changes in affective valence were higher for the outdoor training group (P ≤ 0.05). A significant group-by-time interaction was found for postexercise tranquility (P ≤ 0.01), with a significant increase outdoors and a significant decrease indoors (both P ≤ 0.05). A time effect was revealed for positive engagement, which decreased across time in the indoor group (P ≤ 0.05). Adherence to training (97% vs 91%) was significantly higher outdoors (P ≤ 0.01). Between baseline and week 12, depression symptoms decreased and physical activity level increased only for the outdoor group (P ≤ 0.01 and P ≤ 0.05, respectively).
Conclusions: Outdoor training enhances affective responses to exercise and leads to greater exercise adherence than indoor training in postmenopausal women.