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Physical exercise and the psychology of the menstrual cycle.

Choi, Precilla Yee Lan; (1993) Physical exercise and the psychology of the menstrual cycle. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.), University College London. Green open access

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The effect of physical exercise on emotional changes throughout the menstrual cycle has remained largely unexplored despite suggestions that it may help to alleviate premenstrual symptoms and symptoms of dysmenorrhea. Three studies were carried out to examine this association. In the first, a sample of 342 women were surveyed to discover how they coped with menstrual cycle changes and how helpful these methods were. Physical exercise was found to be among the most helpful ways of coping. This is consistent with the popular contention that women who exercise experience fewer menstrual cycle related problems. In the second study, a mood adjective checklist was constructed specifically for monitoring mood change in women. This questionnaire was then used to monitor menstrual cycle changes in 143 women who exercise and women who do not for one month. The greatest positive affect was seen in women who exercised 3 or more times a week and the least in sedentary women. Similar findings were revealed for negative affect. The differences between exercise groups were greatest during the premenstrual and menstrual phases suggesting that exercisers are to some extent protected from deterioration of mood before and during menstruation. If these results are due to the effect of exercise, this begs the question: how might this effect be mediated. One mechanism through which the psychological benefits of exercise might be mediated is through an increased resistance to stress. How exercising and non-exercising women respond to a stressful laboratory task during different phases of the menstrual cycle was the subject of investigation in the third study. Results revealed that while the exercise group did indeed have a physiological protection from stress, their psychological responses did not differ from the non-exercisers. The results are discussed in relation to personality differences between exercisers and non-exercisers as well as psychological mechanisms of the exercise effect.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D.
Title: Physical exercise and the psychology of the menstrual cycle.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10104734
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