The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) commenced in Australia in 1996 when researchers recruited approximately 40,000 women in three birth cohorts: 1973–1978, 1946–1951, and 1921–1926. Since then participants have completed surveys on a wide range of health issues, at approximately three-year intervals. This overview describes changes in physical activity (PA) over time in the mid-age and older ALSWH cohorts, and summarizes the findings of studies published to date on the determinants of PA, and its associated health outcomes in Australian women. The ALSWH data show a significant increase in PA during mid-age, and a rapid decline in activity levels when women are in their 80s. The study has demonstrated the importance of life stages and key life events as determinants of activity, the additional benefits of vigorous activity for mid-age women, and the health benefits of ‘only walking’ for older women. ALSWH researchers have also drawn attention to the benefits of activity in terms of a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes, as well as overall vitality and well-being. The data indicate that maintaining a high level of PA throughout mid and older age will not only reduce the risk of premature death, but also significantly extend the number of years of healthy life.
Wendy J. Brown and Toby Pavey
Katrina M. Moss, Annette J. Dobson, Kimberley L. Edwards, Kylie D. Hesketh, Yung-Ting Chang, and Gita D. Mishra
Participants and Procedures Mothers were recruited to the Mothers and their Children’s Health (MatCH) 28 study from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). 29 , 30 The ALSWH participants were randomly sampled from Australia’s universal health insurance system in 1996 and have completed
Lynette Adamson and Glennys Parker
This study assessed a range of activities reported by older women in Australia. Women between 75 and 81 years of age (N = 3,955) from the older cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health responded to a request in a self-report survey for additional information concerning their health. Of these 3,955 women, 509 reported taking part in a variety of activities. Qualitative analysis of responses identified 55 coded categories of activities that were subsequently classified into four major themes: physical activities, creative pursuits, lifestyle, and social interaction. The data show that these older women are taking part in a wide range of activities.
Bonnie Field, Tom Cochrane, Rachel Davey, and Yohannes Kinfu
The aim of this study was to identify determinants of walking and whether walking maintained mobility among women as they transition from their mid-70s to their late 80s. We used 12 years of follow-up data (baseline 1999) from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (n = 10,322). Fifteen determinants of walking were included in the analysis and three indicators of mobility. Longitudinal data analyses techniques were employed. Thirteen of the 15 determinants were significant predictors of walking. Women in their mid-70s who walked up to 1 hr per week were less likely to experience loss of mobility in very old age, including reduced likelihood of using a mobility aid. Hence, older women who do no walking should be encouraged to walk to maintain their mobility and their independence as they age, particularly women in their 70s and 80s who smoke, are overweight, have arthritis, or who have had a recent fall.
Jannique G. Z. van Uffelen, Kristiann C. Heesch, and Wendy Brown
While there is emerging evidence that sedentary behavior is negatively associated with health risk, research on the correlates of sitting time in adults is scarce.
Self-report data from 7724 women born between 1973–1978 and 8198 women born between 1946–1951 were collected as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Linear regression models were computed to examine whether demographic, family and caring duties, time use, health, and health behavior variables were associated with weekday sitting time.
Mean sitting time (SD) was 6.60 (3.32) hours/day for the 1973–1978 cohort and 5.70 (3.04) hours/day for the 1946–1951 cohort. Indicators of socioeconomic advantage, such as full-time work and skilled occupations in both cohorts and university education in the mid-age cohort, were associated with high sitting time. A cluster of ‘healthy behaviors’ was associated with lower sitting time in the mid-aged women (moderate/high physical activity levels, nonsmoking, nondrinking). For both cohorts, sitting time was highest in women in full-time work, in skilled occupations, and in those who spent the most time in passive leisure.
The results suggest that, in young and mid-aged women, interventions for reducing sitting time should focus on both occupational and leisure-time sitting.
Toby G. Pavey, Nicola W. Burton, and Wendy J Brown
There is growing evidence that regular physical activity (PA) reduces the risk of poor mental health. Less research has focused on the relationship between PA and positive wellbeing. The study aims were to assess the prospective associations between PA and optimism, in both young and mid-aged women.
9688 young women (born 1973–1978) completed self-report surveys in 2000 (age 22 to 27), 2003, 2006, and 2009; and 11,226 mid-aged women (born 1946–1951) completed surveys in 2001 (age 50–55) 2004, 2007, and 2010, as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Generalized estimating equation models (with 3-year time lag) were used to examine the relationship between PA and optimism in both cohorts.
In both cohorts, women reporting higher levels of PA had greater odds of reporting higher optimism over the 9-year period, (young, OR = 5.04, 95% CI: 3.85–6.59; mid-age, OR = 5.77, 95% CI: 4.76–7.00) than women who reported no PA. Odds were attenuated in adjusted models, with depression accounting for a large amount of this attenuation (young, OR = 2.00, 95% CI: 1.57–2.55; mid-age, OR = 1.64 95% CI: 1.38–1.94).
Physical activity can promote optimism in young and mid-aged women over time, even after accounting for the negative effects of other psychosocial indicators such as depression.
Bradley J. Cardinal
primer on exercise pharmacology. Kinesiology Review, 4, 113–117. doi:10.1123/kr.2014-0085 2015 Wendy J. Brown University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia Brown, W.J., & Pavey, T. (2016). Physical activity in mid-age and older women: Lessons from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s
Eka Peng Cox, Rebecca Cook, Nicholas O’Dwyer, Cheyne Donges, Helen Parker, Hoi Lun Cheng, Katharine Steinbeck, Janet Franklin, and Helen O’Connor
WJ . Weight gain, overweight, and obesity: determinants and health outcomes from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health . Curr Obes Rep . 2014 ; 3 ( 1 ): 46 – 53 . PubMed ID: 26626467 doi:10.1007/s13679-013-0077-4 26626467 10.1007/s13679-013-0077-4 19. Cook RL , O’Dwyer NJ
Gregore I. Mielke, Inacio Crochemore-Silva, Marlos Rodrigues Domingues, Mariangela Freitas Silveira, Andréa Dâmaso Bertoldi, and Wendy J. Brown
months before pregnancy and in each trimester of the gestational period, and showed a sharp decrease during pregnancy. 6 Three months after delivery, the levels of physical activity were still similar to those in the third trimester. Data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health also
Lena Babaeer, Michalis Stylianou, and Sjaan R. Gomersall
Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale 30 ), psychological distress (using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale 31 ), fruit and vegetable intake (ie, adherence to the Australian dietary guidelines 32 ), smoking status and alcohol consumption (using items of the Australian Longitudinal Study on