Studies suggest that striving for a healthy body weight during menopause may be more effective than exercise in helping women deal with most menopause issues.
A report this year from Australia’s Queensland University compared the relationship between increased physical activity and weight loss to the reduction of menopausal symptoms. Researchers surveyed more than 3,000 middle-aged women and found that exercise alone did little for the body aches, hot flashes, night sweats or depression associated with menopause.
The study did show that a change in weight had a strong effect on improving how women felt and how they managed their menopause symptoms. Women who gained weight had more hot flashes, night sweats, body aches and other menopausal symptoms; these symptoms decreased in the women who lost or maintained a normal weight level.
An earlier study from the University of Birmingham in England had also reported a positive effect from lower weight or Body Mass Index (BMI) on menopausal symptoms.
“Women with BMI scores in the normal range reported better health-related quality of life scores than heavy women” during menopause, the authors concluded. A lower BMI correlated to fewer bouts of hot flashes and night sweats for women in this study. Again, exercise alone had little or no effect on these particular symptoms.
Still, researchers don’t minimize the importance physical activity during menopause. Exercise plays a key role in helping women maintain a more healthy weight during all stages of life, especially during menopause.
In addition, studies have shown that even if exercise can’t alleviate hot flashes or night sweats, keeping physically active can help women maintain a more positive mental outlook and feel less anxious or stressed during menopause. An Australian study from the Queensland University of Technology examined the relationship between menopausal symptoms of women and a large number of life style and medical factors including age, education, general health, use of hormone replacement therapy, smoking, exercise and Body Mass Index (BMI).