Sedentary women who started exercising said they had a lot more energy and were in better moods than when they were inactive, a study shows.
The more exercise they did, the better they felt, but even 10 minutes more exercise a day gave them some quality-of-life benefits, says Tim Church, one of the study's authors and director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.
The women felt more confident about doing everyday tasks — such as keeping up with their grandkids, climbing the stairs and carrying in the groceries — and they felt better about themselves when they were in social situations, he says. They experienced these improvements even if they didn't lose weight, he says.
A large body of research shows that regular physical activity lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, but this is one of the first studies to show that physical activity improves quality of life in almost all areas, he says.
Church and colleagues recruited 430 sedentary postmenopausal women. Participants were assigned either to a non-exercise group or one of three exercise groups, which were prescribed different amounts of physical activity.
One group walked briskly or rode a stationary bike for a little more than an hour a week; another did the same things for a little more than two hours a week; and the third exercised for about three hours a week.
The women completed questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study to measure their perceptions about factors that impact quality of life.
Findings reported in Monday's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine:
- Exercisers reported improvements in all areas of quality of life: agility, energy, overall health, mental health, emotional well-being and functioning in social situations.
- The only area the women didn't report improvement was in bodily pain, and that's because they didn't report having much chronic pain to begin with, so there was little room for improvement.
- The more women exercised, the greater their improvements. "The group that was doing three hours a week reported huge increases in energy and vitality," Church says.
That's important because "quality of life is a central issue in modern aging. It's no longer about how long you live, it's how long you live well," he says.
Other research shows that heavyset adults in the USA are losing millions of years to a poorer quality of life and premature death because of their extra weight.
Researchers at Columbia University found that overweight and obese women live an average of three years more with health problems than normal-weight women. They are more likely to have pain, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses that can affect their ability to do daily tasks such as bathing and dressing themselves, the research shows.
Heavy men live an average of one more year with health problems than those who maintain a healthy weight.
News release provided by www.USAtoday.com.