Women May Walk Off Menopause Stress
No Marathon Required -- Walking May Be Enough
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 3, 2008 -- Chalk up another perk from physical activity: less stress
for women as they transition to menopause.
Here are the highlights from a new study on stress and physical activity in
women before, during, and after menopause:
- Physically active women report less stress than inactive women.
- After menopause, physically active women report less stress, anxiety, and
depression than inactive women.
The researchers' advice: If you're active, keep it going. And if you're not
active, get started.
"These results suggest that maintaining or increasing physical activity
during the menopausal transition period and postmenopause may assist in
reducing a variety of psychological symptoms including anxiety, stress, and
depression," write Temple University's Deborah Nelson, PhD, and
Stress and Menopause Study
Nelson's team studied 380 women for eight years, starting when the women
were 42 years old, on average.
When the study began, the women were premenopausal. During the study, they
provided blood samples and reported their stress, anxiety, depression, and
menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or decreased
interest in sex) 10 times and noted their physical activity every two
Every little bit of activity counted, ranging from vigorous exercise to
climbing stairs and walking a few city blocks, even if they didn't consider it
By the end of the study, 20% of the women had reached menopause
(meaning they hadn't had a period in more than a year) and 18% were close to
How Much Activity?
Some women were more active than others. Here's a quick look at their
calories burned, based on a walking pace of 4 miles per hour:
- The most active women walked for 1.5 hours, five times per week.
- The women in the middle of the pack walked for 38 minutes, five times per
- The least active women walked for 16 minutes, five times per week.
Activity paid off in terms of stress management. The women in the two most
active groups reported less stress throughout the study than the least active
women. After menopause, activity also brought less anxiety and depression.
Physical activity didn't affect the women's hot flashes or other physical
symptoms of menopause.
The study appears online in Medicine & Science in Sports &
Exercise. If it inspires you to get active, check in with your doctor first
as a precaution.