Menopausal women should increase exercise to reduce hot flashes, says new research
A new study has now shown that as well as contributing to obesity and other health risks, a sedentary lifestyle can have another negative effect on well-being, by worsening symptoms of menopause in women.
A team of researchers analysed data from 6,079 women, aged between 40 to 59 and of Hispanic descent, who had all taken part in the Collaborative Group for Research of the Climacteric in Latin America.
As part of the research program they had all attended one of 20 urban health centers in 11 Latin American countries, completing surveys and providing health records, which were then used in the current study.
The surveys included questions on the women's menopause status, as well as a Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) questionnaire on menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, joint pains, depressed mood, anxiety, sexual problems, vaginal dryness, and bladder problems.
The women were also questioned on their level of activity.
If women scored 16 or more on the MRS questionnaire their menopausal symptoms were considered to be severe, and if they reported participating in less than three 30-minute sessions of physical activity a week their lifestyle was considered to be sedentary.
Using this criteria, 64% of the women were considered to have a sedentary lifestyle, with 16% of these sedentary women scoring highly enough on the MRS questionnaire for their symptoms to be considered severe, compared to only 11% of active women.
Sedentary women also had higher scores on the depression, anxiety, and insomnia scales; reported more menopausal symptoms in general; and were also more likely to be obese.
Commenting on the results, JoAnn V. Pinkerton, NAMS Executive Director, said, "Regular physical activity reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer, dementia, heart attacks, stroke, depression; loss of lean muscle mass, and bone loss and improves immune system function. One study showed that just one hour of walking daily cut the risk of obesity by 24%. Fewer hot flashes, fewer health risks, increased well-being -- who doesn't want these benefits?"
The study was published online on Wednesday on the website of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), and will be published in the May 2016 print edition of Menopause.