Exercise to the Rescue for Menopause Relief

Menopausal symptom severity linked to sedentary lifestyle in large, Latin American study

(RxWiki News) A sedentary lifestyle is bad thing for just about everyone, but it may be especially harmful to menopausal women.

In a new study, researchers from the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) found that sedentary Hispanic women experienced notably worse menopause symptoms than their active peers. A sedentary lifestyle was also linked to anxiety, depression, insomnia and obesity in these women.

For this study, researchers looked at the health records and survey responses of 6,079 women ages 40 to 59 who went to one of 20 urban health centers in 11 Latin American countries.

Menopausal symptoms — including hot flashes, joint pain, depression, anxiety, sexual problems, vaginal dryness and bladder problems — were reported using the Symptoms on the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) survey. The women also answered questions about physical activity and stage of menopause.

Researchers considered a woman sedentary if she engaged in less than three weekly sessions of physical activity that lasted 30 minutes or longer. Activities could include jogging, walking or swimming. Menopause symptoms were considered severe if a women scored 16 or higher on the MRS.

A sedentary lifestyle was very common among these women, with 64 percent reporting.

Compared to 11 percent of the active women, 16 percent of the sedentary women reported extreme menopausal symptoms. Sedentary women were also more likely to have high MRS scores and insomnia, and be obese, depressed and anxious.

NAMS Executive Director JoAnn V. Pinkerton, MD, explained that less severe menopausal symptoms is just one of the potential benefits of an active lifestyle for middle-aged women.

"Regular physical activity reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer, dementia, heart attack, stroke, depression, loss of lean muscle mass, bone loss, and improves immune system function," Dr. Pinkerton said. "Fewer hot flashes, fewer health risks, increased well-being — who doesn't want these benefits?"

This study was published online Jan. 27 in the journal Menopause. No funding sources or conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
January 22, 2016