Studies show that keeping active can help reduce hot flushes
Getting sweaty in order to avoid hot flushes – a sudden feeling of overwhelming heat – might seem an odd thing to do, but it could help, according to researchers from Penn State University.
Previous studies have focused on hot flushes the women themselves feel they’ve experienced but this new research also looked at those for which there was clinical evidence. Researchers followed 92 menopausal women for a little over two weeks; not all the participants were experiencing severe symptoms. Some had mild symptoms, others moderate, and there were women who were physically active, moderately active and inactive. Previous studies have concentrated on women who were seeking help for their severe symptoms and so, say the Penn State researchers, were not representative of the general population. All participants in this study wore monitors that indicated how much physical activity they did, as well as another device to monitor skin conductance – a way of measuring changing moisture levels on the skin that reflect the occurrence of a hot flush. Participants also reported flushes they were aware of.
The researchers expected physical activity to increase hot flushes, seeing as it usually raises body temperature, but it actually had the opposite effect. On average, women had fewer such symptoms after exercising. This was less true for overweight or obese women, although they still experienced a reduction.
Although the researchers can’t say for certain that all menopausal women will find relief via exercise, lead study author Professor Elavsky says, “There’s no reason to avoid physical activity for the fear of making symptoms worse. In fact, physical activity may be helpful.”