Health cognitions mediate physical (in)activity and walking in midlife women

Annemarie Walsh, Liz Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study sought to identify which of the many facilitators and barriers to physical activity (PA) and walking are most significant to changing midlife women’s exercise behaviour with a view to informing future interventions. A cross-sectional survey explored associations of PA and sedentary time with self-reported health value, health locus of control (HLOC) and physical and mental health. Open-ended questions were included to elicit barriers and facilitators to walking. A sample of 295 women, aged 35-55, were recruited via women’s groups, social media, online forums, and posters in doctors’ surgeries, and completed the survey online. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics, t-test, analysis of variance and regression analyses. The low activity levels reported underline the urgency of developing interventions for this population. Results suggest that the key factors associated with higher activity levels are having a more internal HLOC, better mental health and placing greater value on health. While health cognitions may therefore be one important factor to target, these must be tackled in the context of women’s other barriers and facilitators to exercise. Thematic analysis of the open-ended questions revealed that the key barrier to walking was women’s busy lives and their many competing priorities and that the most important facilitators were mental health and social connection. Overall, results suggest that rather than emphasizing physical health and activity targets, practitioners should seek to make walking more relevant to women by emphasizing mental wellbeing and self-care, and more enjoyable by focusing on social and family-based walking interventions.

LanguageEnglish
JournalMaturitas
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Oct 2019

Fingerprint

Cognition
Walking
Health
Exercise
Mental Health
Internal-External Control
Analysis of Variance
Social Media
Posters
Self Care
Cross-Sectional Studies
Regression Analysis
Analysis of variance (ANOVA)
Surgery
Statistics
Population

Keywords

  • physical activity
  • sedentary time
  • walking
  • midlife women
  • barriers
  • facilitators
  • menopause

Cite this

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Health cognitions mediate physical (in)activity and walking in midlife women. / Walsh, Annemarie; Simpson, Liz.

In: Maturitas, 07.10.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Simpson, Liz

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AB - This study sought to identify which of the many facilitators and barriers to physical activity (PA) and walking are most significant to changing midlife women’s exercise behaviour with a view to informing future interventions. A cross-sectional survey explored associations of PA and sedentary time with self-reported health value, health locus of control (HLOC) and physical and mental health. Open-ended questions were included to elicit barriers and facilitators to walking. A sample of 295 women, aged 35-55, were recruited via women’s groups, social media, online forums, and posters in doctors’ surgeries, and completed the survey online. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics, t-test, analysis of variance and regression analyses. The low activity levels reported underline the urgency of developing interventions for this population. Results suggest that the key factors associated with higher activity levels are having a more internal HLOC, better mental health and placing greater value on health. While health cognitions may therefore be one important factor to target, these must be tackled in the context of women’s other barriers and facilitators to exercise. Thematic analysis of the open-ended questions revealed that the key barrier to walking was women’s busy lives and their many competing priorities and that the most important facilitators were mental health and social connection. Overall, results suggest that rather than emphasizing physical health and activity targets, practitioners should seek to make walking more relevant to women by emphasizing mental wellbeing and self-care, and more enjoyable by focusing on social and family-based walking interventions.

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