A simple, brisk walking routine can reduce a variety of menopausal symptoms such as anxiety, stress and depression, write researchers in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
"With the aging population, physical activity represents one way for women to stay mentally healthy. Physical activity can help throughout the menopausal transition and afterwards," said Temple University's Deborah Nelson.
The study involved 380 women living in Philadelphia who reported their physical activity level and menopausal symptoms including stress, anxiety, depression and hot flashes. The average age at the beginning of the study was 42 -years -old; 49 percent were African American, 58 percent reported more than a high school education, and 38 percent smoked cigarettes.
"We recruited African-American and Caucasian women living in Philadelphia for this study to better represent the large population of urban women. These results can be generalizable to both urban Caucasian and African-American women, groups of women that have been under-represented in previous studies," Nelson said.
In the category of stress, researchers found that high levels of physical activity were the most beneficial to postmenopausal women and African-American women. While the study found mental benefits of exercise, it did not show that exercise reduced physical symptoms such as hot flashes. "Physical symptoms like hot flashes will go away when you reach menopause, but mental health is something women still need to think about post-menopause," Nelson said.
"You don't have to run 20 miles a week to reap the benefits of exercise. If you stick to a moderate-paced walking schedule, it can keep your body mass index down and lower the risk of stress, anxiety and depression," Nelson concluded.
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Source: Temple University