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.