It is well-known that physical exercise is beneficial to one’s health; however, not uncommonly, many drop out of their training program. Thus, the key to success is persistence. A new study compared indoor and outdoor exercise for postmenopausal women. The findings were published online on November 24 in the journal Menopause by researchers at the University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada.
The study authors note that postmenopausal women, despite their increased risk of cardiovascular risk, do not engage in adequate physical activity. They explain that outdoor exercise sessions induce more positive emotional (affective) responses than similar indoor exercise. Thus, outdoor exercise could increase exercise adherence to a program. The aim of the study was to compare the long-term effects of outdoor and indoor training on emotional outcomes and adherence to an exercise program in postmenopausal women.
The study group comprised 23 healthy postmenopausal women aged 52-69 years. They were randomly assigned to either 12 weeks of indoor or outdoor exercise. They were required to complete three weekly one hour sessions of identical aerobic and resistance training. Measurements during the exercise sessions included: adherence, affective valence (Feeling Scale of their emotions), affective states (Exercise-Induced Feeling Inventory), and rating of perceived exertion were measured during exercise sessions. In addition, depression symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) and physical activity level (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly) were evaluated before and after the intervention.
The investigators found that, after 12 weeks of training, exercise-induced changes in affective valence were higher for the outdoor training group. A substantial group-by-time interaction was found for post-exercise tranquility, with a significant increase outdoors and a significant decrease indoors. A time factor was found for positive engagement (positive feelings towards exercise), which decreased over time in the indoor group. Adherence to training (outdoor: 97%; indoor: 91%) was significantly higher for outdoor exercise. From the study onset through week 12, depression symptoms decreased and physical activity level increased only for the outdoor group.
The authors concluded that outdoor exercise promotes positive emotional responses to exercise and results in greater exercise adherence than indoor training in postmenopausal women.
Take home message:
Angeleno women are fortunate to live in a Sunbelt area where outdoor exercise is possible on many days throughout the year. For those occasional days of liquid sunshine, exercise indoors.