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Table 6 Selected studies of physical activity and weight gain

From: Recent evidence exploring the associations between physical activity and menopausal symptoms in midlife women: perceived risks and possible health benefits

Reference Sample Physical activity measure Menopausal symptom measure Other measures Detailed findings Summarized findings: observed association
Null Positive Negative Mixed
Prospective cohort studies  
Choi et al. 2012 [47] 346 women, aged 40–50 years with regular menstrual cycles were enrolled in the Biobehavioral Health in Diverse Midlife Women Study in 1996–1997. The analytic sample included 232 pre (n = 175) and peri (n = 57) menopausal women that completed physical activity data at baseline and after 2 years Paffenbarger Physical Activity Questionnaire was assessed every 6-months for 2 years. Leisure time physical activity estimates are MET · hr · wk−1 and are computed as the product of the duration and frequency, weighted by the corresponding MET value for each reported activity. After 2-years, change physical activity status was classified as: increase (≥300 MET · hr · wk−1), maintain (−300 to 300 MET · hr · wk−1), or decrease (<300 MET · hr · wk−1) Trained study staff measured body weight (via electronic scale) and waist circumference (specialized tape to the nearest 0.1 cm), every 6 months Sociodemographic factors and Menopausal status (via urinary levels of FSH) Unadjusted results suggest that after 2-years, participants who maintained their physical activity had an average weight gain of 3.3 ± 12.2 lbs. Participants who decreased physical activity gained the most weight over time 5.3 ± 8.9 lbs. Participants who increased physical activity gained the least amount of weight 0.8 ± 12.2 lbs. Similar group differences were also shown for waist circumference. Compared to those who decreased physical activity over time, those that increased physical activity had statistically significant less weight gain (p < 0.05) and waist circumference increase (p < 0.01), after adjustment for covariates    x  
Lusk et al. 2010 [48] 18,414 Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) II participants, recruited in 1989. Follow-up questionnaires including physical activity and body weight were completed every 2-years. The analytic sample participants who were premenopausal through 2005 and completed the 1989 and 2005 questionnaires The NHS II Physical Activity Questionnaire includes reported frequency and duration (10 response options from ‘zero’ to ‘≥11 h per week’ of 9 specific activity types over the past year. Usual walking pace was also reported (responses range from ‘unable to walk’ to ‘very brisk (≥4 miles per hour). Average number of flights of stairs climbed daily were also reported. Inactivity via reported sitting time was also assessed Height and weight were participant reported On the baseline and follow-up questionnaires. BMI was computed from these self-reported values Socio-demographic factors, dietary patterns (i.e., sugar-sweetened beverages, trans-fats, and dietary fiber), health behaviors, parity, oral contraceptive use, antidepressant use A 30 min per day increase in overall physical activity levels between 1989 and 2005 was associated with less weight gain [−1.31 kg (95 % CI: −1.44, −1.18)]. A 30 min increase in brisk walking and bicycling, specifically, was associated with less weight gain [−1.81 kg (95 % CI: −2.05, −1.56) and −1.59 kg (95 % CI: −2.09, −1.08), respectively]. Further, women that reported no bicycling in 1989 and increased to ≥5 min per day in 2005, gained significantly less weight [−0.74 (95 % CI: −1.41, −0.07)] than those who reported no bicycling in 2005    x  
Sims et al. 2012 [49] Participants were drawn from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Study (40 clinical sites) and included 58,610 postmenopausal women aged 50–79 years old that took part in either the diet modification or hormone therapy arms. Participants enrolled in 1993–98 and were followed annually for 8 years The WHI Physical Activity Questionnaire includes reported frequency and duration within moderate- and strenuous- physical activity categories. Walking was also assessed. Participants were further classified into four groups: sedentary (≤100 MET · hr · wk−1), low activity (>100 to 500 MET · hr · wk−1), moderate activity (>500 to 1200 MET · hr · wk−1), and high activity (≥1200 MET · hr · wk−1) Trained clinical staff measured body weight and height with a calibrated balance beam or digital scale and a wall-mounted stadiometer. BMI was calculated from these measures. Waist (midpoint between last floating rib and upper part of the iliac crest at the end of expiration)-to-hip (maximum extension of the buttocks) ratio (WHR) was also measured using a conventional measuring tape Sociodemographic factors, dietary intake, smoking, alcohol, hormone use, and sleep In the fully adjusted models, in the 50–59 year age group, women in the moderate activity group experienced a significant weight loss [−0.30 (95 % CI: −0.53, −0.07) compared to the sedentary group. In women aged 70–79 years, higher physical activity was significantly associated with less weight loss [0.34 (95 % CI: 0.04, 0.63)    x  
Non-randomized intervention studies  
Karacan, 2010 [50]a 112 women aged 46–55. The analytic sample included 65 participants that regularly participated in the 3- and 6-month exercise program The 6-month exercise program included aerobic activity (75–80 % heart rate capacity) with calisthenics for 3 days a week for 55 min each session Height and weight were assessed with a metal meter and scale; BMI was also computed. Body fat percentage was also measured via skinfold calipers using the Sloan and Weir formula (triceps and suprailiac) Menopausal symptoms, physical characteristics (age at menopause), resting heart rate and blood pressure, lower back flexibility, hand grip strength, and body composition (skin folds) There was a significant decrease in body weight, BMI, and body fat percentage from baseline to 6-months    x  
  1. aPhysical activity dose reflective of 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans [3]