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Adherence to exercise and affective responses: comparison between outdoor and indoor training

Lacharité-Lemieux, Marianne MSc1,2; Brunelle, Jean-Pierre PhD2; Dionne, Isabelle J. PhD1,2

doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000366
Original Articles

Objective Postmenopausal women, despite their increased cardiovascular risk, do not meet physical activity recommendations. Outdoor exercise bouts induce more positive affective responses than the same indoor exercise. Outdoor training could therefore increase exercise adherence. This study aims to compare the long-term effects of outdoor and indoor training on affective outcomes and adherence to exercise training in postmenopausal women.

Methods In a 12-week randomized trial, 23 healthy (body mass index, 22-29 kg/m2) postmenopausal women (aged 52-69 y) were assigned to either outdoor training or indoor training and performed three weekly 1-hour sessions of identical aerobic and resistance training. Adherence, affective valence (Feeling Scale), affective states (Exercise-Induced Feeling Inventory), and rating of perceived exertion were measured during exercise sessions, whereas depression symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) and physical activity level (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly) were assessed before and after the intervention.

Results After 12 weeks of training, exercise-induced changes in affective valence were higher for the outdoor training group (P ≤ 0.05). A significant group-by-time interaction was found for postexercise tranquility (P ≤ 0.01), with a significant increase outdoors and a significant decrease indoors (both P ≤ 0.05). A time effect was revealed for positive engagement, which decreased across time in the indoor group (P ≤ 0.05). Adherence to training (97% vs 91%) was significantly higher outdoors (P ≤ 0.01). Between baseline and week 12, depression symptoms decreased and physical activity level increased only for the outdoor group (P ≤ 0.01 and P ≤ 0.05, respectively).

Conclusions Outdoor training enhances affective responses to exercise and leads to greater exercise adherence than indoor training in postmenopausal women.

From the 1Health and Social Services Center, University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; and 2Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.

Received June 25, 2014; revised and accepted September 9, 2014.

Funding/support: M.L.-L. has benefited from a scholarship from Fonds de recherche Québec–Santé and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. I.J.D. currently holds the Canada Research Chair in Exercise Recommendations for Healthy Aging. This study was supported by the Research Center on Aging.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Isabelle J. Dionne, PhD, Centre de Recherche sur le Vieillissement, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Sherbrooke, 1036 Belvédère sud, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada J1H 4C4. E-mail:

© 2015 by The North American Menopause Society.