Self-reported and accelerometer-derived physical activity levels and depression in older women: Results from the healthy women study (hws)

Allison Pellerito, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This study is a secondary data analysis of a prospective cohort study, the Healthy Women Study (HWS), which examined biological and behavioral cardiovascular risk factor changes from the pre- to post-menopausal stages in a sample of women. The HWS began in 1983, with 28 years of follow-up. The purpose of the current study was to examine the associations between physical activity (PA) levels and depression among older women, aged 68-77 years. The exposure variable, PA, was assessed using both self-reported and accelerometer methods. Depression, the outcome variable, was assessed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-VI) accredited Beck Depression Inventory- II (BDI-II) questionnaire. The analytic sample included 156 older women with a mean ± standard deviation age of 73.2 ± 1.7 years. Among the study sample, participants had minimal levels of depression compared to the CDC's national averages. PA levels among these individuals were higher than the CDC's national averages. Using Spearman's Correlation, we found inverse relationships between accelerometer-derived PA levels and depression status. Among individuals who engaged in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (PA), for every one minute increase in PA there was a decrease in depression score of 0.23 (p=0.01). In our multivariate analysis controlling for age, race, BMI, marital status, education, and medication use, we found significant, inverse associations between higher levels of PA and depression. Older women who engaged in structured bouts of MVPA (i.e., at least 8 of 10 consecutive minutes) had lower levels of depression. For every one minute increase in accelerometer-derived structured MVPA, there was a 0.24 unit decrease in depression score (p=0.02). Self-reported PA levels were unrelated to depression score. Comparatively, using accelerometer-derived PA levels, we were able to show the benefits of MVPA for depression status in older women. This study leads to further questions and implications on how to measure and quantify PA in older women as well as support the previously studied notion of the benefits that PA have on mental health.

Subject Area

Womens studies|Health sciences|Public health

Recommended Citation

Pellerito, Allison, "Self-reported and accelerometer-derived physical activity levels and depression in older women: Results from the healthy women study (hws)" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1552537.