Exercise Reduces Menopausal Hot Flashes

By Chelsea Whyte on June 29, 2012 8:17 PM EDT

exercising woman
Hot flashes got you overheated? Getting some exercise can lessen the symptoms. (Photo: Creative Commons: lululemon at)

Having hot flashes? You may want to hit the gym.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, exercise can keep hot flashes at bay, according to research by neurologists and physiologists from Texas Tech University, Penn State Stanford University.

"Some physiological explanations would suggest that performing physical activity could increase hot flashes because it acutely increases body core temperature," said kinesiologist Steriani Elavsky.

But their research found otherwise. They followed 92 menopausal women for 15 days, and had the women self-report their hot flashes in addition to wearing accelerometers to measure their physical activity and monitors that measured the moisture levels on their skin.

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The women were aged 40 to 59 and had mild to moderate menopausal symptoms. They were not on any form of hormone therapy.

Using two methods of recording hot flashes allowed researchers to analyze the frequency of objective and subjective hot flashes, reports Psych Central. Objective hot flashes occurred when the monitor recorded them; subjective hot flashes occurred when the woman reported them. When an objective and a subjective hot flash were recorded within five minutes of each other, it was considered a "true positive" hot flash.

On average, the women experienced fewer hot flash symptoms in the 24 hours following exercise than they did following a period of inactivity. Participants who were overweight or unfit noticed the smallest reduction in symptoms.

"For women 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."

This isn't the first study to report a reduction in menopausal symptoms after exercise or that fit women tend to experience fewer menopause related discomforts, making regular exercise a viable option for women exploring natural ways to reduce the number of "summer moments", reports the Montreal Gazette.

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