According to a
recent health study, physically active menopausal women are likely to
experience fewer hot flashes during the 24 hours that followed their physical
Menopause is the state of absence of menstruation for
a period of 12 months in a woman. It is a natural
phenomenon and usually occurs within the ages of 45 and 55 years. During this
time, the ovaries cease to function, and stop producing the vital hormones,
particularly estrogen. Surgical
removal of uterus and ovaries, chemotherapy and premature ovarian failure are
some of the other reasons for menopause.
Symptoms of menopause include irregular bleeding, hot
flashes, night sweats, itchiness and dryness of the vagina, urinary infection,
urinary incontinence, emotional problems, memory loss, weight gain and wrinkled
skin. Osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are some of the health
complications of menopause. Menopause symptoms are usually treated with hormone
replacement therapy (HRT) or oral contraceptive pills.
Steriani Elavsky, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Penn State, women who
are overweight or obese or, women who lead sedentary are likely to suffer
increasingly from perceptions of hot flashes. Here, it must be noted that
perceived hot flashes do not always tally with the actual ones. The present
study attempted to analyze objective versus subjective hot flashes and observe
the effect exercise had on them.
colleagues studied 92 menopausal women for a duration of 15 days. The sample
population included women with mild-to-moderate post menopausal symptoms
between the ages of 40-59 years, and who were not on HRT. These women also had
two children on an average.
recruited women residing in the community. We used recruitment sources that included
a variety of outlets in the community frequented by women, such as libraries,
fairs, gyms, advertisements in local newspapers, etc," Elavsky said.
were given accelerometers to have their physical activities monitored. They
also had to wear monitors that measured skin conductance, which changed with
the level of the moisture content. Each participant recorded the hot flashes
she experienced throughout the 15-day study on a personal digital assistant.
The hot flashes
were recorded in an objective way and in a subjective way. Objective hot
flashes were recorded by the monitor and the subjective ones were recorded by
the women themselves based on their perception. If both these were recorded
within five minutes of each other, it qualified as a "true positive"
physiological explanations would suggest that performing physical activity
could increase hot flashes because it acutely increases body core
temperature," said Elavsky.
study found that this theory was not true, as on an average basis, the subjects
of the study experienced fewer hot flash symptoms after they had exercised ;
this reduction in symptoms was least experienced by those women who were
overweight, having a low fitness level or those who were experiencing more
frequent or more intense hot flashes.
The idea that
women could combine diet with exercise to experience fewer hot flashes is a
theory worthy of future research, the researchers noted.
with mild to moderate hot flashes, there is no reason to avoid physical
activity for the fear of making symptoms worse," said Elavsky. "In
fact, physical activity may be helpful, and is certainly the best way to
maximize health as women age. Becoming and staying active on a regular basis as
part of your lifestyle is the best way to ensure healthy aging and well being,
regardless of whether you experience hot flashes or not."
must motivate all women who have crossed their forties to don their trekking
shoes and walk their way to a fitter and healthier life!
Elavsky et al. Effects of physical activity on
vasomotor symptoms: examination using objective and subjective measures.
Menopause (June issue) 2012.