Early menopause symptoms are eased by exercise such as walking and yoga... but experts are divided on just how much exercise actually helps women cope with the debilitating signs of menopause.
Both walking and yoga gave the 164 sedentary women who'd been suffering hot flashes, night sweats and other menopausal symptoms an emotional lift and improved how they rated their quality of life.
They reported higher levels of general happiness than a comparison group of non-exercisers. They also reported gains in "menopause-related quality of life," which gauged their feelings about their physical health, emotional well-being and sex life.
the study's lead author, Dr. Steriani Elavsky, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University, said: "I would definitely recommend exercise to enhance psychological well-being."
What was glossed over in the report was that emphasis on 'psychological'.
Lila Nachtigall, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University School of Medicine, told WebMD that if anything, exercise brings on hot flashes in many women by increasing their core body temperature.
“Exercise is good for your heart, lungs, arteries, and weight. It helps prevent diabetes and bone loss,” she says. “But I have never seen it help reduce hot flushes. It would be nice if it did, but it just doesn’t.”
Nachtigall said that menopause symptons were different for each woman. "Flushes vary in intensity and in number. Some women will get by fine with no treatment, and others will need hormone therapy whether they exercise or not.”
So, while it would be delightful to consider exercise as a viable alternative medicine for menopause, it appears that you will need to try it for yourself. If it lessens your symtoms - or simply makes you feel better - continue walking or exercising. If it doesn't, take it as a sign, and seek estrogen hormone therapy if the hot flashes and other early menopause symptoms become overbearing.
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