It lowers stress and depression, even though it doesn't impact on hot flashes, study finds
THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise is not a cure for hot flashes, but it does help postmenopausal women cope with stress, anxiety and depression, a Pennsylvania study has found.
The researchers had hoped to prove that exercise could be a less risky alternative to hormone replacement therapy for women suffering from hot flashes, said study author Deborah B. Nelson, a professor of public health and obstetrics and gynecology at Temple University in Philadelphia.
But, she added, "we didn't find a relationship between physical activity and hot flashes."
However, the study did find that more exercise led to lowered levels of perceived stress. "The level of anxiety, stress and depression were significantly lower among physically active, postmenopausal women compared to postmenopausal women in the lowest" level of physical activity, the researchers reported in the January issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Still, the results are significant, because the hot flashes women experience as they go through the menopausal transition are often a temporary problem, Nelson explained. Women live a long time in postmenopause, which can be a period when they may struggle with stress, anxiety and depression, she said.
The study was conducted over eight years, beginning in 1996-1997. Nelson's team studied 380 women, average age 42, in the Philadelphia area who walked between 15 minutes and 90 minutes daily for up to five times a week.
"We know that physical activity is helpful in reducing anxiety and stress. What was surprising was that it wasn't a lot of physical activity. It was mainly walking," Nelson said. "It is encouraging that it's something women can incorporate into their daily routine. The next question is would it be even more helpful if they were involved in a h
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