BACKGROUND: The mechanisms causing postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms are unknown, but changes in
hypothalamic beta-endorphins have been suggested to be involved. beta-endorphin production may
be increased by regular physical exercise. OBJECTIVE: To assess if physically active women
suffered from vasomotor symptoms to a lower extent than sedentary women. MATERIAL AND METHODS:
All women (n = 1323) in the ages ranging from 55-56 years in the community of Linkoping Sweden,
were included. In a questionnaire these women were asked about their physical exercise habits
and their complaints from vasomotor symptoms. Only those 793 women who had reached a natural
menopause were grouped into sedentary, moderately or highly active women, based on a physical
activity score. RESULTS: Only 5% of highly physically active women experienced severe hot
flushes as compared with 14-16% of women who had little or no weekly exercise (P < 0.05;
relative risk 0.26; CI 95%: 0.10-0.71). This was not explained by differences in body mass
index, smoking habits or use of hormone replacement therapy. Women who used hormone
replacement therapy were more physically active than non-users (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION:
Fewer physically active women had severe vasomotor symptoms compared with sedentary women.
This may be due to a selection bias but also to the fact that physical exercise on a regular
basis affects neurotransmitters which regulate central thermoregulation.
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1990;69(5):409-12
Does physical exercise influence the frequency of postmenopausal hot flushes?
Hammar M, Berg G, Lindgren R
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University Hospital, Linkoping, Sweden.
The frequency of moderate and severe hot flushes was investigated in a group of women (n = 142) who took part in organized physical exercise on a regular basis, and a control group of all women 52 and 54 years old in the city of Linkoping, Sweden (n = 1,246). Only women with natural menopause and without a history of hormonal replacement treatment were statistically compared in the study. It appeared that moderate and severe vegetative symptoms with hot flushes and sweatings were only half as common among the physically active postmenopausal women (21.5%) as in the control group (43.8%). Although this could be due to a positive selection of these physically active women, it might also be due to the fact that exercise may affect the mechanisms that elicit hot flushes in peri- and postmenopausal women.