A scientific analysis of over 6,000 women has determined that menopausal women who don’t exercise experience greater menopause-related discomfort than those who do.
Being Sedentary Worsens Menopause Discomfort
A woman has officially reached menopause when she hasn’t had a period for over a year. Menstruation ceases because the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The average age for this to occur is 51. The time period leading up to menopause is called perimenopause, and both menopause and perimenopause can cause unpleasant symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, urinary incontinence, vaginal dryness, mood changes, low libido, weight gain, joint pain and osteoporosis.
A study involving more than 6,000 middle-aged women in 11 Latin American countries found that menopausal women who don’t exercise have it worse than those who remain active. This study is published in the scientific journal Menopause. The women in the study completed standardized questionnaires asking about their exercise habits, menopause discomfort and other aspects of health. In this study, being sedentary was defined as having fewer than three weekly exercise sessions lasting at least 30 minutes.
Data analysis found that 16 percent of the sedentary women had severe menopause discomfort while only 11 percent of the active women did. Additionally, the sedentary women had higher overall menopause symptom scores, and were more likely to suffer from obesity, insomnia, depression, or anxiety.
Exercise Holds Infinite Benefits
Reduced menopause discomfort isn’t the only benefit of staying active. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of a wide variety of diseases and conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, depression, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, heart attacks and some types of cancer including breast and colon cancer.
In addition, exercise boosts your mood instantly due to the endorphins that flood your body. It also improves your baseline energy levels due to the improved blood flow, providing every cell in your body with more of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs for energy. Breaking a sweat has been proven to be as or more effective than antidepressants for mild-to-moderate depression, and there’s a good chance a morning jog will wake you up more quickly than a cup of coffee. Those who exercise also have better immune systems than those who don’t, so they get sick less often.
Ways to Be More Active
Experts officially recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week—an example of moderate exercise being walking about four miles an hour, or fast enough to raise your heartbeat noticeably. One minute of vigorous exercise—for example, running or jogging—is supposed to count as two minutes of moderate exercise. So, jogging for 15 minutes, five days per week, would be just as good as power walking for 30 minutes, five days per week.
Even exercising a little bit more than you currently do will make you healthier. In fact, one study showed that just walking three miles per day reduced the risk of obesity by 24 percent. However, implementing a comprehensive exercise routine can be a daunting task, especially for those who have never been in the habit of exercising regularly. It’s easy to be intimidated… where will you find the time? With a little creativity, you can squeeze exercise into your schedule and still have plenty of time left over. For example:
- If you spend a lot of time curled up with your favorite novels, you can try putting those same books in an audio format onto an mp3 player and listening to them as you go for a brisk walk around the block.
- Many of us live very close to the businesses we frequent. If it’s less than a mile away, why not walk there instead of driving?
- If you have a treadmill, but can’t seem to find the time to use it, try positioning it so that you can watch TV while you exercise.
- Find a workout buddy to help you stay accountable.
- Find an activity you really enjoy, so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. There are a wide variety of sports, classes and fitness activities to choose from.