Researchers found that women who were sedentary, meaning they exercised fewer than three times a week, were 28% more likely to report having severe menopause symptoms than those who exercised more. Not surprisingly, sedentary women were also 52% more likely to be obese researchers report in an article published online January 19 in Menopause.
Juan E. Blümel, MD, PhD, from the University of Chile in Santiago, and colleagues reviewed data from the Collaborative Group for Research of the Climacteric in Latin America surveys and the health records of more than 6000 women aged 40 to 59 years who received care at urban health clinics across 11 Latin American countries.
Researchers in Central and South America asked women living in several Latin American cities about their menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, irritability, insomnia and depression. They also asked the women how many times a week they have recently engaged in at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking or jogging, bicycling or swimming.
“Our results support reports that highlight the positive impact of physical activity on menopausal symptoms,” the authors write, noting that the effect could be a result of the actions of estrogen and physical activity on the brain.
“This is great support, and another study, showing that being sedentary is not only not good for your health, it is not good for your menopause symptoms,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Virginia. Although Pinkerton was not involved in the current study, she selected it for publication in the society’s journal, Menopause, where she is an editor.
Although exercise can be beneficial for women of all ages, if you “start when you’re in your 40s, you can avoid gaining that 12 to 15 pounds [that women often gain during the menopausal transition] and you can be in better shape and better able to handle the stresses that are thrown at you when you have hormonal changes and menopausal symptoms,” Pinkerton said.
The average age that women go through menopause is 51, but before that, they go through a period called perimenopause, usually starting in their 40s. During this time, levels of estrogen fluctuate, metabolism changes and muscle can be lost, all of which can conspire to make it easy for women to gain weight and hard for them to lose weight.
Women should aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise three days a week, Pinkerton said. That half-hour could be split up into three 10-minute sessions a day. “Instead of thinking about how I have to go to the gym for an hour, think about walking more, getting up and moving around,” Pinkerton said.
Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out in IN!
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