Most people know that exercise earlier in the day can lead to a better night’s sleep — but some studies found it also reduced hormonal night sweats for about 10 percent of women.
A health research institute in Finland looked at 74 women, 45 to 63, who had recently started menopause and who were all experiencing symptoms, according to a recent Reuters news report. The 74 women were told to exercise 50 minutes a day, four days a week for 24 weeks, with at least two of the sessions involving walking and the other two from a list of walking and other aerobic activities. Another group of 77 women only attended health lectures.
Each group reported menopause symptoms to researchers twice a day, according to Reuters. Six months later, those who stuck with the program complains about mood swings and irritability declined in the exercise group by 10 percent.
The group also reported fewer hormonal night sweats, with 60 percent complaining of nighttime hot flashes at the beginning of the study and 50 percent experiencing hormonal night sweats at the end of the study.
So it seems for 10 percent, they were able to stop hot flashes at night with exercise.
Up to 80 percent of women experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, hormonal night sweats, vaginal dryness, and sleep disturbances. While estrogen-based hormone therapy can help, many women are worried about the potential health problems from these therapies and want alternative ways to stop hot flashes.
This isn’t the first study to suggest menopausal women might benefit from exercise, though other studies did not confirm a connection, Reuters said. In fact, individual research can be very confusing when it comes to menopause. For instance, while this study shows a benefit to exercise, another larger research study found that women who work-out 8-10 hours a day were more likely to experience menopause earlier.
Even if the study does not prove exercise can stop hot flashes, there are plenty of reasons to try exercise, including the health, stress and mood benefits.
Steriani Elavsky, a professor at Penn State University who was uninvolved in the Finnish research project, said exercise’s impact on mood is probably the real reason women felt better and reported more symptoms, but she also wouldn’t “discount the possibility that exercise has a physiological impact.”
Reuters also notes that some women reported benefits from supplements, such as black cohosh, flaxseed, red clover, wild yams, soy and ginseng. Many are not backed by scientific research, however, some women swear by them and most are not harmful, although soy and red clover can be dangerous for those at risk for cancer.
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