A study has found the amount of exercise a woman does depends on whether she is married or has children.
According to the findings published in the latest issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, major milestones in a woman's life such as marriage and motherhood or retirement and widowhood impact on the amount of exercise they get.
Decreases in physical activity were associated with marriage and childbirth in young women and declining health in older women. But retired women or widows tended to increase their physical activity level.
More than 40,000 women responded to the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, with participants answering survey items on two occasions three years apart.
After analysing three life phases: young womanhood, middle age and older age, researchers found a third of the younger (ages 18 to 23) and middle-aged (45 to 50) women and a quarter of the older women (70 to 75) were active at both survey times.
Lead author Wendy Brown said: "By recognising the life events that are associated with decreases in activity, women could be alerted to the risk.
"For example, if you are an older woman with heart disease or diabetes, it is vitally important to stay active, as physical activity can help to manage these conditions."
"Marriage is sometimes not great for women's health. As a gym instructor in my early adulthood I noticed quite a difference in fitness and appearance between mothers and non-mothers. This obviously reflects the amount of care taking women do in marriage, and also the fact that normally they do more household chores while men retain or often take up new leisure activities with or without children in marriage. I think this is an interesting study because it does show that women's wellbeing does suffer in one area after marriage. In many longitudinal studies in the past (eg, heart studies), subjects have all been male and results have been applied to both genders" - Liz, Melbourne