Exercise as a Coping Tool for Menopause

More than 1.5 million U.S. women, generally between the ages of 45 and 55, reach menopause each year.  Of these, roughly 80 to 85 percent are plagued with the mood swings, irritability, hot flashes, and night sweats that seem to come along with the change.  Now a study by researchers at Penn State University suggests that regular exercise diminishes the impact of certain of these menopausal symptoms.  Some 160 primarily sedentary female subjects were divided into three sections.  One batch never exercised at all; a second batch participated in twice-weekly 90-minute yoga sessions; the third group walked for one hour three times a week.

Results?  The women in both the walking group and  the yoga group reported significant improvements in mood and general quality of life, while the women who did no exercise at all reported no such benefits.  (It should be pointed out that the study’s results in terms of hot flashes and night sweats were less clear.  Roughly half of the subjects reported some alleviation of hot flashes and night sweats; most, but by no means all, were in the exercising non-sedentary groups.)

Moral of the story?  Regular exercise seems to be an important and as-yet largely untapped tool in coping with menopause, as well as an important vehicle for achieving and maintaining overall physical and mental health for all persons, male and female alike.

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