The objective of this study was to investigate the factors that influence midlife women to make positive exercise and dietary changes. In late 2005 questionnaires were mailed to 866 women aged 51–66 years from rural and urban locations in Queensland, Australia and participating in Stage 2 of the Healthy Aging of Women Study. The questionnaires sought data on socio-demographics, body mass index (BMI), chronic health conditions, self-efficacy, exercise and dietary behavior change since age 40, and health-related quality of life. Five hundred and sixty four (69%) were completed and returned by early 2006. Data analysis comprised descriptive and bivariate statistics and structural equation modeling. The results showed that midlife is a significant time for women to make positive health behavior changes. Approximately one-third of the sample (34.6%) indicated that they had increased their exercise and around 60% had made an effort to eat more healthily since age 40. Modeling showed self-efficacy to be important in making both exercise and dietary changes. Although education appeared to influence self-efficacy in relation to exercise change, this was not the case for dietary change. The study has application for programs promoting healthy aging among women, and implies that those with low education, high BMI and poor mental health may need considerable support to improve their lifestyles
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