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Weight loss actually possible after menopause

Women in menopause are likely to complain about hot flushes and an inability to lose weight, especially belly fat. A Spanish study shows how regular exercise can help reduce weight and control bothersome symptoms such as hot flashes, even in women who previously led sedentary lifestyles. 

Decreased estrogen levels during the menopause transition often create an array of physical and mental health issues that detract from a woman's overall quality of life. The article "Improvements in health-related qualify of life, cardio-metabolic health, and fitness in postmenopausal women after a supervised, multicomponent, adapted exercise program in a suited health promotion intervention: a multigroup study" reports on 234 Spanish postmenopausal women aged 45 to 64 years who had at least 12 months of sedentary behavior and engaged in a supervised 20-week exercise program for the study.

After the intervention, the participants experienced positive changes in short- and long-term physical and mental health, including significant improvements in their cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. In addition, they achieved modest but significant reductions in their weight and body mass index, and their hot flashes were effectively managed. This is especially good news for women who are reluctant to use hormones to manage their menopause symptoms and are looking for safe but effective nonpharmacologic options without adverse effects.


Abstract

Objectives:

This study explored the multidimensional outcomes that resulted from the adherence to regular exercise among previously sedentary postmenopausal women. The exercise was managed through a supervised, multicomponent, adapted approximately 20-week program in a suited health promotion intervention.

Methods:

A multigroup, mixed-design study with between-group (intervention, sedentary, and active women) and within-subject measures (baseline, postintervention, and 3- and 12-month follow-ups) was conducted using intention-to-treat methodology. The Cervantes Scale assessed health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and several indicators of cardio-metabolic status and fitness were also assessed.

Results:

After the intervention, the participants experienced positive changes in short and long-term physical and mental health, with significant enhancements in several HRQoL dimensions, particularly mental well-being and menopause-related health and subdomains. Improvements were maintained or continued (eg, mental well-being) throughout the period, leading up to the 12-month follow-up. These outcomes were accompanied by significant improvements in cardio-metabolic status and fitness, including weight, body mass index, cardio-respiratory fitness, and flexibility.

Our findings parallel previous empirical evidence showing the benefits associated with regular exercise, and add evidence to the association of positive outcomes in HRQoL with improvements in cardio-metabolic health and fitness status after the adoption of an active lifestyle.

Reference

Godoy-Izquierdo D1, Guevara NM, Toral MV, Galván CT, Ballesteros AS, García JF. Improvements in health-related quality of life, cardio-metabolic health, and fitness in postmenopausal women after a supervised, multicomponent, adapted exercise program in a suited health promotion intervention: a multigroup study. Menopause. 2017 Feb 13. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000844. [Epub ahead of print]

Content updated 17 February 2017

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