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Effect of aerobic training on menopausal symptoms—a randomized controlled trial

Moilanen, Jaana M. MSc1; Mikkola, Tomi S. MD2; Raitanen, Jani A. MSc1,3; Heinonen, Reetta H. MSc1; Tomas, Eija I. MD4; Nygård, Clas-Håkan PhD1; Luoto, Riitta M. MD3,5

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31823cc5f7
Original Articles

Objective The aim of this study was to assess whether aerobic training affects menopausal symptoms in recently postmenopausal sedentary women.

Methods Symptomatic women aged 45 to 63 years (N = 176; 3-36 months since last menstruation) were randomly assigned to an aerobic training or a control group. The intervention included unsupervised aerobic training for 50 minutes four times weekly for 24 weeks, whereas the control group attended health lectures twice a month. Symptoms were reported twice a day using a mobile phone. The perceived disturbance of menopausal symptoms (night sweats, mood swings, irritability, depressive mood, headache, vaginal dryness, and urinary symptoms) was evaluated on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high). Multilevel mixed-effect ordinal regression models were based on 17,000 responses during 24 weeks.

Results One hundred fifty-four women continued until the end of the study (88% compliance rate). Baseline prevalence was as follows: night sweats, 50% to 60%; irritability and depression, 20% to 25%; mood swings, 25% to 30%; headache and urinary problems, 15% to 20%; and vaginal dryness, 10% to 15%. The prevalence of all symptoms except vaginal dryness decreased among intervention groups. According to multilevel mixed-effect ordinal regression analysis, night sweats and mood swings (P < 0.001) and disturbance of the mood swings (P < 0.001) and irritability (P < 0.001) were reduced more among the women in the intervention group than in the control group.

Conclusions In sedentary women, aerobic training for 6 months may decrease the typical menopausal symptoms, especially night sweats, mood swings, and irritability.

From the 1School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland; 2Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland; 3UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland; 4Tampere University Central Hospital, Tampere, Finland; and 5National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.

Received August 9, 2011; revised and accepted October 6, 2011.

Funding/support: This study was funded by the Ministry of Education, the Academy of Finland, the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation, the Juho Vainio Foundation, and the Pirkanmaa Competitive Research Fund (Pirkanmaa hospital district).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Jaana M. Moilanen, MSc, Tampere School of Health Sciences, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland. E-mail:

©2012The North American Menopause Society