Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Promote Physical Activity in Midlife Women: an Interventional Study
Introduction & Objective: Despite the well-known effects of physical activity (PA), approximately three out of four women aged 18-65 years old living in Tehran do not have adequate PA. The present study was designed to evaluate the effect of cognitive-behavioral group therapy on PA in women.
Methods: This research included observations performed before and after interventions on 35 women aged 18-65 years of age living in Khoramoudi neighborhood in district 2 of Tehran, Iran. All women participated in PA less than the recommended amount by the Centre for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). The qualified women participated in the cognitivebehavioral group therapy. There were 10 group sessions held by a sport psychologist, these sessions were divided into two courses of 17 and 18 women.
There were two sessions per week and each was 90 minutes in length. The content of the 10 sessions held included: 1) Attracting members’ trust and collaboration, as well as reducing stress; 2) Training to detect unpleasant emotions and detecting when these occur; 3) Teaching the relationship between
thoughts, emotions and behaviors, as well as familiarity with a variety of cognitive errors;4) Learning to discover and challenge irrational thoughts; 5) Teaching the method of science to better understand and counteract irrational thoughts; 6) Teaching how to determine and prioritize goals; 7) Learning how to
plan and how to increase the level of activity; 8) Reviewing the previous sessions and practice exercises, obtaining feedback and answering questions; 9) Training the group on relaxation techniques and application; 10) Providing feedback to members and emphasizing the continued use of what they have
learned. PA was measured before, at one month and three months after attending the classes by using the Persian version of the International Physical Activity questionnaire. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 20 software. Repeated measurement ANOVA was used to compare the PA within the groups
at the specified times.
Results: The mean age of the women participating in the study was 47.73 years and the mean BMI was 27.51. There was a statistically significant difference in the total score of PA reported before intervention, one and three months after the intervention (P < 0.001); this statistical significance was found before and one month after the intervention (P < 0.001), as well as before and three months
after the intervention (P <0.001). The statistical difference was not significant when one month post intervention and three months post intervention were compared (P = 0.27).
Conclusion: Cognitive-behavioral group therapy is effective in promoting the PA of Iranian women; this intervention can be most beneficial when individuals are interested in improving PA .
Key words: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Physical Activity, Midlife Women