Objective: The first objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of brisk walking on moderately obese (body mass index, 29-35 kg/m2) postmenopausal women’s perceived health, assessed through a novel short perceived health questionnaire (SPHQ), and to verify whether improvements in six items examined were related to cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and/or fat mass changes (study 1). The second objective of this study was to test the SPHQ against validated generic instruments (study 2).
Methods: From the 270 women included in study 1, 181 participants were subjected to three 45-minute walking sessions per week at 60% of their heart rate reserve, whereas 58 women remained inactive for 4 months. Perceived health assessed through the SPHQ, body composition, and CRF were determined before and after the 4-month study period. Another sample of 20 women was selected to validate the SPHQ (study 2).
Results: Despite a lack of between-group differences in the amelioration of four perceived health items, ideal weight and stress level were improved in women subjected to our walking program exclusively (P < 0.0001). Improved perceived healthy balanced diet was positively correlated to fat mass reduction in the walking group (r = 0.15; P < 0.05) only (study 1). The SPHQ shows good reproducibility for five of six items (intraclass correlation coefficients ranging from 0.77 to 0.89; P < 0.0001), and three of them were validated against generic tools (0.45 < r < 0.54; P < 0.05; study 2).
Conclusions: Additional studies are needed to more accurately determine the relationships between changes in perceived health and changes in body fatness and/or CRF after endurance training and to continue the validation of the SPHQ.