Objectives: The aim of this study was to test whether menopause is associated with decreased physical performance and to determine the risk factors accounting for a decline in physical performance.
Methods: We recruited 979 women (mean ±SD age, 48.4 ± 3.9 y; range, 43-57 y) from a community population in Taiwan. Menopause status (435 women [44.4%] in premenopause, 253 [25.8%] in perimenopause, and 291 [29.7%] in postmenopause) was determined by menstrual history. All women underwent three dimensions of physical performance assessment: flexibility was evaluated by stand-and-reach and sit-and-reach tests; muscular strength was determined by the grip and pinch strength tests; and balance was assessed by one-legged standing with eyes open or closed.
Results: Flexibility did not vary among women in different menopausal states. Perimenopausal or postmenopausal women had weaker grip strength than premenopausal women (27.7 ± 6.5, 25.1 ± 6.5, and 23.5 ± 6.5 kg for premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal states, respectively; P < 0.001) and shorter standing balance time (93.9 ± 33.7, 88.7 ± 34.9, and 78.4 ± 39.5 s for premenopausal, perimenopausal, postmenopausal states, respectively; P < 0.001). In a multivariate analysis, the associations of decreased grip strength and poor balance with menopause status remained significant after adjustment for baseline characteristics.
Conclusions: Menopause is an independent predictor of decreased muscle strength and balance.