Published Papers - Abstract 120

Lee C & Russell A. Effects of physical activity on emotional well-being among older Australian women: Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2003; 54(2): 155-160

Objective: To explore relationships between physical activity and mental health, cross-sectionally and longitudinally, in a large cohort of older Australian women. Method: Women in their 70s participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health responded in 1996 (aged 70-75) and in 1999 (aged 73-78). Cross-sectional data were analyzed for 10,063 women and longitudinal data for 6,472. Self-reports were used to categorize women into four categories of physical activity at each time point, as well as to define four physical activity transition categories across the three-year period. Outcome variables for the cross-sectional analyses were the mental health component score, and mental health subscales, of the SF-36. The longitudinal analyses focused on changes in these variables. Confounders included the physical health component scale of the SF-36, marital status, body mass index, and life events. Adjustment for baseline scores was included for the longitudinal analyses.Results: Cross-sectionally, higher levels of physical activity were associated with higher scores on all dependent variables, both with and without adjustment for confounders. Longitudinally, the effects were weaker but women who had made a transition from some physical activity to none generally showed more negative changes in emotional well-being than those who had always been sedentary, while those who maintained or adopted physical activity had better outcomes.Conclusion: Physical activity is associated with emotional well-being among a population cohort of older women both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, supporting the need for the promotion of appropriate physical activity in this age group.