Weaker physical performance might be linked to symptoms of anxiety or depression in middle-aged women, the John Tung Foundation said yesterday, citing a study published in the journal Menopause in June last year.
The report, titled “Objective measures of physical performance associated with depression and/or anxiety in midlife Singaporean women,” studied 1,159 women aged 45 to 69 who received regular gynecologic care at the National University Hospital in Singapore, the foundation said.
The researchers assessed the women’s upper body strength by testing their hand grip and their lower body strength by measuring how fast they walked, their ability to balance while standing and the amount of time it took them to rise from a chair five times, it said.
The women were also asked to fill out questionnaires on the frequency with which they experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression, such as feelings of sadness, loss of appetite or problems sleeping, in recent weeks, it said.
The study showed that 181 had symptoms of anxiety or depression, most of whom were aged 45 to 54, and overall had poorer physical performance, it said.
Although the study is unable to prove a causal relationship between fitness and mental health, it strongly suggests the benefit of exercise, foundation mental health center director Yeh Ya-hsin (葉雅馨) said.
Middle-aged women not only have to adapt to menopause, but might also find themselves sandwiched between their aging parents, children, spouses and jobs, she said.
These experiences, in addition to the high expectations placed on them by society, are often accompanied by depression and anxiety, she said.
Liu Chia-yi (劉嘉逸), former head of the Taiwan Association Against Depression, compared the connection between physical strength and depression or anxiety to the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first.
Regardless of which is the cause and which is the effect, Liu recommended that women maintain a positive mood and stay fit.
According to the foundation, the population of women aged 45 to 59 in Taiwan is nearly 2.76 million, accounting for 11.7 percent of the nation’s overall population.
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