Details of Publication 849 for Project A424:

Heesch KC, van Gellecum YR, Burton NW, van Uffelen JGZ & Brown W. Physical activity and quality of life in older women with a history of depressive symptoms. Preventative Medicine, 2016; 91: 299-305

Physical activity (PA) is positively associated with health-related quality of life (HRQL) in older adults. It is not evident whether this association applies to older adults with poor mental health. This study examined associations between PA and HRQL in older women with a history of depressive symptoms. Participants were 555 Australian women born in 1921-1926 who reported depressive symptoms in 1999 on a postal survey for the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. They completed additional surveys in 2002, 2005 and 2008 that assessed HRQL and weekly minutes walking, in moderate PA, and in vigorous PA. Random effects mixed models were used to examine concurrent and prospective associations between PA and each of 10 HRQL measures (eight SF-36 subscales; two composite scales). In concurrent models, higher levels of PA were associated with better HRQL (p<0.001). The strongest associations were found for the bodily pain, physical functioning, general health perceptions, social functioning and vitality measures. Associations were attenuated in prospective models, more so for mental HRQL-related scales than for physical HRQL-related scales. However, strong associations (>3 point differences) were evident for physical functioning, general health, vitality and social functioning. For women in their 70s-80s with a history of depressive symptoms, PA is positively associated with HRQL concurrently, and to a lesser extent prospectively. This study extends previous work by showing significant associations in older women with a history of depressive symptoms. Incorporating PA into depression management of older women may improve their HRQL.