There may be a simple way for women to lessen some of the unpleasant symptoms that come with menopause: researchers in Central and South America found that regular exercise just a few days a week goes a long way toward relief.
Their study involved more than 6,000 women ages 40 to 59 who were asked about their menopause symptoms—including physical symptoms as well psychological symptoms including depression, mood swings and anxiety. Researchers also asked how often the women engaged in physical activity.
The majority of the women in the study (64%) led a sedentary lifestyle, which was defined as exercising fewer than three times a week. According to the study results, those women experienced more severe menopause symptoms overall, from hot flashes and bladder problems to depression and trouble sleeping. They were also more likely to be obese.
On the contrary, women who were more active experienced fewer (and less severe) symptoms—possibly due, in part, to the impact of physical activity on the brain, which produces key chemicals involved with mood, sleep and other functions. Researchers also stress that regular exercise is important for women’s health in general and may help ease the shift into menopause. They recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, three times a week, as part of a healthy menopause treatment regimen.