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Recent evidence exploring the associations between physical activity and menopausal symptoms in midlife women: perceived risks and possible health benefits

Although the health benefits of physical activity are well established, the prevalence of midlife women accumulating sufficient physical activity to meet current physical activity guidelines is strikingly low, as shown in United States (U.S.) based surveillance systems that utilize either (or both) participant-reported and device-based (i.e., accelerometers) measures of activity. For midlife women, these low prevalence estimates may be due, in part, to a general lack of time given more pressing work commitments and family obligations. Further, the benefits or “reward” of allocating limited time to physical activity may be perceived, by some, as too distant for immediate action or attention. However, shifting the health promotion message from the long term benefits of physical activity to the more short-term, acute benefits may encourage midlife women to engage in more regular physical activity. In this article, we review the latest evidence (i.e., past 5 years) regarding the impact of physical activity on menopausal symptoms. Recent studies provide strong support for the absence of an effect of physical activity on vasomotor symptoms; evidence is still inconclusive regarding the role of physical activity on urogenital symptoms (vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence) and sleep, but consistently suggestive of a positive impact on mood and weight control. To further advance this field, we also propose additional considerations and future research directions.

Authors: Pettee Gabriel K; Mason JM; Sternfeld B

Womens Midlife Health. 2015;1:1. Epub 2015-08-11.

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