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Reduction in Perceived Stress in Healthy Women Older Than 30 Years Following a 24-Week Resistance Training Program: A Pilot Study

Koplas, Patricia A. PhD, PT1; Shilling, Ashley E. BA2; Harper, Melinda S. PhD3

Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy: May/August 2012 - Volume 36 - Issue 2 - p 90–101
doi: 10.1097/JWH.0b013e3182615d1f
Research Report

Background: Resistance exercise can help counteract estrogen-dependent changes in the musculoskeletal systems of older women, but its impact on female psychosocial health has not been well characterized.

Objective: Complete pilot study measuring psychosocial variables in healthy women older than 30 years following a weight-lifting program.

Study Design: Nonrandomized study of psychosocial measures in 13 female experimental participants (mean = 45.5 ± 8.4 years) with control group comparison (n = 5; 52 ± 11.8 years).

Methods and Measures: Experimental participants without prior lifting experience completed a resistance exercise program for 24 weeks. Psychosocial and physical variables were measured before and after the program. Psychosocial surveys measured self-esteem, perceived stress, mastery, and body satisfaction. Physical variables included body mass index and muscle strength using a 1-repetition maximum test. Control participants completed identical surveys but no resistance exercise. Outcome variables were analyzed with paired t tests.

Results: Perceived stress significantly decreased in experimental participants following the program (P < .05). Other psychosocial variables showed favorable trends for women compliant with the program, but the difference in pre- and postmeans were not significant. No psychosocial variables changed significantly for controls. There was a significant increase in body mass index and the 1-repetition maximum test for the leg press and lat pull-down machines (P < .05).

Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrated a significant decrease in perceived stress in a group of women older than 30 years completing a 24-week resistance exercise program. Research examining psychological benefits of exercise is extremely important to help promote healthy lifestyle choices and preventative guidelines.

1Department of Biology, Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina.

2Ford Louisville Assembly Plant, Kentucky.

3Department of Psychology, Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina.

The authors declare no confilcts of interest.

Copyright © 2012 Section on Women's Health, American Physical Therapy Association
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