August 24, 2009

Life events affect women’s exercise

Australian researchers have linked motherhood, widowhood and other life events to exercise.

The study, part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health involving more than 40,000 participants, surveyed women at three life phases -- young womanhood, middle age and older age. The younger women were ages 18-23; middle-aged women ages 45-50 and older women ages 70-75.

Decreases in physical activity were associated with marriage and childbirth in young women and declining health in older women. However, the study also found that women who retired or who became widows tended to increase their physical activity level.

By recognizing the life events that are associated with decreases in activity, women could be alerted to the risk, lead author Wendy Brown of the University of Queensland in Australia said in a statement. For example, if you are an older woman with heart disease or diabetes, it is vitally important to stay active, as physical activity can help to manage these conditions.

The study is published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.