The Harvard Medical School releases regular health publications; one called ‘Exercise to improve menopausal symptoms’ recently caught my eye. Probably because the last blog I wrote on this topic; Can women beat hot flashes with exercise met with several disagreements and women telling me they have been exercising regularly for years and have yet to experience relief from hot flashes. Alas we are all different, a tonic for some may prove useless for others, but there is no denying some women see a definite improvement in their menopause symptom’s intensity and frequency when they exercise.
The article I read was an excerpt from ‘Mind Over Menopause’ a study embarked upon by Leslee Kagan, M.S., N.P., Bruce Kessel, M.D., Herbert Benson, M.D, who are so convinced that exercise is beneficial for menopause relief that it has become an essential component for their programs. They also believe exercise keeps us young. Other studies have shown the physical deterioration which begins in your thirties and lasts up into your seventies, is in part caused by a sedentary lifestyle. This can be slowed down with exercise, including changes associated with menopause, which may not be solely hormonal.
Exercise, a natural balm for hot flashes?
Many women that have regular workout routines claim it lessens the frequency and intensity of their hot flashes. A Swedish study observed one hundred and forty two menopausal women who were not taking any treatments, including hormone replacement therapy, at all. The women who exercised routinely reported that the frequency of their severe and moderate hot flashes were reduced by half. One explanation for this outcome is the belief that working out affects chemicals in the brain responsible for maintaining the body’s temperature.
During exercise we generally experience a momentous increase in our body’s temperature, which is replaced with an offsetting decrease some hours later. The decrease in temperature can last up to four hours and not only helps you drift off to sleep, but also helps you stay asleep.
The metaphysical benefits of exercise is very interesting. Aerobic exercise has been found to activate the flow of hormones which affect mood swings as well as neurotransmitters. This supports a feeling of wellbeing and soothes worry, stress and anxiety. A study at Duke University even found regular exercise to be a sufficient replacement for antidepressants.
In short: Menopausal women who exercise regularly experience an uplift in body-image perception which increases general self-esteem and decreases anxiety linked to body satisfaction. It is a natural way to defend against hot flashes and comes with an array of additional benefits and negligible disadvantages.