BACKGROUND: Improved quality of life (QOL) is a purported benefit of exercise, but few randomized controlled trials and no dose-response trials have been conducted to examine this assertion.
METHODS: The effect of 50%, 100%, and 150% of the physical activity recommendation on QOL was examined in a 6-month randomized controlled trial. Participants were 430 sedentary postmenopausal women (body mass index range, 25.0-43.0 [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared]) with elevated systolic blood pressure randomized to a nonexercise control group (n = 92) or 1 of 3 exercise groups: exercise energy expenditure of 4 (n = 147), 8 (n = 96), or 12 (n = 95) kilocalories per kilogram of body weight per week. Eight aspects of physical and mental QOL were measured at baseline and month 6 with the use of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey.
RESULTS: Change in all mental and physical aspects of QOL, except bodily pain, was dose dependent (trend analyses were significant, and exercise dose was a significant predictor of QOL change; P < .05). Higher doses of exercise were associated with larger improvements in mental and physical aspects of QOL. Controlling for weight change did not attenuate the exercise-QOL association.
CONCLUSION: Exercise-induced QOL improvements were dose dependent and independent of weight change.