Aerobic exercise is known to improve health-related quality of life (QoL). The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a 16-week walking program on eating behaviors and QoL between late premenopausal and early postmenopausal obese and sedentary women, once chronological aging is taken into account.
Sixteen women 49 ± 2 years old and 14 women 53 ± 2 years old, whose body mass index ranged between 29 and 35 kg/m2, were subjected to three sessions per week of 45-minute walking at 60% of their heart rate reserve. Fat mass and lean mass (bioelectrical impedance), cardiorespiratory fitness estimated by maximum oxygen consumption (2-km walking test), eating behaviors (Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire), and QoL, estimated by the Short Form-36 Health Survey, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and Perceived Stress Scale-10 questionnaires, were recorded before and after exercise.
With the exception of a higher attitude of self-regulation in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women (P = 0.05), no between-group differences were observed in body composition, eating behaviors, and QoL at baseline. In all participants, body weight and fat mass decreased, whereas cardiorespiratory fitness increased after walking (0.001 < P < 0.0001). Situational susceptibility was the only eating behavior reduced after training in all women (P = 0.02). Neither the sleep quality index nor the perceived stress score changed in response to endurance exercise. Finally, in all women, Short Form-36 physical and mental scores increased after walking (0.001 < P < 0.05).
Despite modest body weight and fat mass losses, a 16-week walking program seems to be sufficient to improve physical and mental well-being, irrespective of menopause status.