Mechanisms of improved body composition among perimenopausal women practicing Meditative Movement: a proposed biobehavioral model

Dara L. James, Linda K. Larkey, Bronwynne Evans, Ann Sebren, Kimberley Goldsmith, Erica Ahlich, Nanako A. Hawley, Afton Kechter, Dorothy D. Sears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Weight gain and unfavorable body composition are prevalent among midlife/older women throughout menopause. These shifts may negatively impact health, well-being, and longevity. Efforts to attenuate weight and body composition changes are traditionally driven by manipulation of diet and/or exercise; however, sustained results are limited, possibly because the full spectrum of biobehavioral systems is not addressed by diet and exercise alone. We propose a biobehavioral model detailing mechanisms of body composition decline among perimenopausal women and the associated components of Meditative Movement (ie, tai chi, qigong, yoga) that address each of these factors. Methods: Based on our previous work and extensive review of the literature, we developed a multifactorial and multidimensional biobehavioral model including factors that most directly relate to body composition among perimenopausal women: 1) psychological (ie, stress and mood, mindfulness and self-compassion, body awareness), 2) behavioral (ie, sleep, physical activity, eating behaviors), and 3) physiological (ie, cortisol, estrogen). Relationships between each factor, Meditative Movement practice components, and predicted effects on body composition were explored in detail. Results: Our model describes select psychological, behavioral, and physiological factors, and potential mechanistic pathways of Meditative Movement practice driving improved changes in body composition and weight outcomes for perimenopausal women. Conclusions: The proposed model details a novel, evidence-supported means to reduce the risk of deleterious shifts in body composition throughout perimenopause and menopause thereafter. We suggest that these changes may occur directly and/or indirectly through psychological, behavioral, and physiological mechanisms that facilitate the desired changes in body composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1123
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023


  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Qigong
  • Tai chi
  • Weight
  • Yoga

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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