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).
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).
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).
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.