The impact of physical activity on psychological well-being in women aged 45-55 years during the Covid pandemic: A mixed-methods investigation

Kerry Lum, Liz Simpson

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14 Citations (Scopus)
225 Downloads (Pure)


Evidence suggests that being physically active may improve quality of life through the menopausal transition. This study is one of the first to investigate how meeting the UK Physical Activity Guidelines (PAG) impacted quality of life, stress, coping and menopausal symptoms in UK midlife women, aged 45-55 years, during the unfolding Covid pandemic (Phase 1 quantitative, n=164). The study also explored their motivation to undertake regular physical activity during Covid lockdown (Phase 2 qualitative, n=4). An explanatory sequential mixed-methods design was used to collate quantitative (survey) and qualitative (focus group) data. Participants who met PAG experienced fewer depressive symptoms and less perceived stress, and had better physical and mental health and quality of life than women who did not. This was supported by focus group discussions reporting lack of facilities, time constraints, reduced social support and existing health complaints as barriers to physical activity. Factors motivating women to exercise during Covid lockdown were benefits for physical and mental health, and support from friends (Qualitative). Women are postmenopausal for one-third of their lives, and health interventions need to promote positive healthy ageing around menopause. Menopausal changes could be used by clinicians as cues to action to promote female health and well-being. Clinicians should be promoting the health benefits of exercise and making women aware of the importance of aiming to meet the PAG for optimal health benefits. Women should be encouraged to increase their levels of physical activity by making plans and setting goals and gaining support by exercising with friends or family, as a way to better control menopausal symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
Early online date5 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Kerry J. Lum contributed to the design of the study, recruitment, data collection, data analyses, wrote the paper, saw and approved the final version. Ellen Elizabeth Anne Simpson contributed to the design of the study, analyses of results, write-up and review of the paper and approved the final version. The research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. Ethical approval for the study was obtained through the School of Psychology Staff and Postgraduate Filter Committee at Ulster University. This article was not commissioned and was externally peer reviewed. There are no linked research data sets for this paper. The authors do not have permission to share data. Thank you to all the women who took part in the study and to the Facebook support groups who allowed the link to the survey to be posted on their page: Menopause Matters, Natural Fitness & Therapy Centre Eastbourne, South Coast Wellbeing & Training, Menopause Support Group UK; Yoga & Spiritual Teachers/Healers; Menopause Help, Before, During & After; Menopause Caf?, Bodytalk, Hart Holistic Support, The Menopause Fairy.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • menopause
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • physical activity
  • Covid
  • quality of life
  • stress and coping
  • Physical activity
  • Menopause
  • Stress and coping
  • Quality of life
  • Pandemics
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Exercise/physiology
  • United Kingdom
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Female
  • Adaptation, Psychological


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