A recently published study has demonstrated an association between sedentary lifestyle, severe menopausal symptoms and obesity.

A survey of 6,079 Latin American women aged 40 to 59 years showed that 63.9% of women reported a sedentary lifestyle, defined as less than 3 weekly periods of physical activity lasting 30 minutes or longer during the past month. Physical activity included walking, cycling, running, jogging, swimming and/or working out. Menopausal symptoms and quality of life were evaluated and details were taken of smoking, drinking alcohol, educational level, medical history, menopausal status and use of hormone therapy.

Sedentary women were shown to be more likely to experience severe menopausal symptoms than physically active women, and symptoms included vasomotor symptoms, depressive symptoms, anxiety and sleep disturbance. Sedentary women also had greater waist circumference and greater levels of obesity and diabetes than physically active women.

Physical activity influences brain chemicals and so biologically could decrease the intensity of menopausal symptoms. However, this study can only show association, not prove a cause and it is unclear if physical activity reduces menopausal symptoms, or if menopausal symptoms reduce the ability or motivation to exercise.

While these findings may not be unexpected, this large study adds more weight to the increasing need to encourage and support regular exercise. Off for a jog!

Reference: Sedentary Lifestyle in Middle-aged Women Is Associated With Severe Menopausal Symptoms and Obesity. Blumel JE, Fica J, Chedraui P et al. Menopause. 2016;23(5):488-493