Can physical activity prevent physical and cognitive decline in postmenopausal women? A systematic review of the literature

Anderson, Debra, Seib, Charrlotte, & Rasmussen, Laura (2014) Can physical activity prevent physical and cognitive decline in postmenopausal women? A systematic review of the literature. Maturitas, 79(1), pp. 14-33.

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Participation in regular physical activity is among the most promising and cost effective strategies to reduce physical and cognitive decline and premature death. However, confusion remains about the amount, frequency, and duration of physical activity that is likely to provide maximum benefit as well as the way in which interventions should be delivered.


This paper aimed to review research on the impact of leisure-time and general physical activity levels on physical and cognitive decline in postmenopausal women. In a systematic review of the literature, empirical literature from 2009-2013 is reviewed to explore the potential impact of either commencing or sustaining physical activity on older women’s health.


All studies found that physical activity was associated with lower rates of cognitive and physical decline and a significant reduction in all-cause mortality. In this review we found that exercise interventions (or lifestyle activities) that improved cardiorespiratory exercise capacity showed the most positive impact on physical health.


Findings suggest that programs should facilitate and support women to participate in regular exercise by embedding physical activity programs in public health initiatives, by developing home-based exercise programs that require few resources and by creating interventions that can incorporate physical activity within a healthy lifestyle. The review also suggests that clinicians should consider prescribing exercise in a tailored manner for older women to ensure that it is of a high enough intensity to obtain the positive sustained effects of exercise.

Impact and interest:

10 citations in Scopus
9 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 73164
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Physical activity, Older women, Cognitive decline, Physical decline
DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.06.010
ISSN: 1873-4111
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000) > Nursing not elsewhere classified (111099)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Maturitas. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Maturitas, [VOL 79 ISSUE 1] DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.06.010
Deposited On: 01 Jul 2014 23:08
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 11:52

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