Published Papers - Abstract 393

Brown WJ, Heesch K & Miller Y. Life events and changing physical activity patterns in women at different life stages. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2009; 37(3): 294-305

Background The impact of life events on physical activity (PA) is little understood.Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine relationships between specific life events and changes in PA in three cohorts of Australian women.Methods Young (N=7,173; age 22–27 years), mid-age (N=8,762; 51–56 years), and older (N=6,660; 73–78 years) participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study onWomen’s Health completed surveys on two occasions, 3 years apart.Results About one third of the young and mid-age women and one quarter of the older women were “active” at both times. Decreasing PA was associated with marriage and childbirth in young women and with declining health in older women. Increasing PA was associated with retirement and death of spouse in the mid-age women. Stressful events such as divorce, harassment at work, and violence were also associated with changing PA.Conclusions There were significant associations between age-specific life events and PA changes. Understanding these relationships could inform interventions for preventing declines in activity at specific life stages.