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Menopause. 2014 Apr;21(4):330-8. doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e31829e4089.

Efficacy of exercise for menopausal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1From the 1Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA; 2Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA; 3University of Minnesota and Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Minneapolis, MN; 4Klein Buendel Inc, Denver, CO; 5Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; 6School of Nursing, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN; 7Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, WA; 8University of Washington, Seattle, WA; 9Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; 10Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, Boston, MA; and 11National Institute for Fitness and Sport, Indianapolis, IN.



This study aims to determine the efficacy of exercise training for alleviating vasomotor and other menopausal symptoms.


Late perimenopausal and postmenopausal sedentary women with frequent vasomotor symptoms (VMS) participated in a randomized controlled trial conducted in three sites: 106 women randomized to exercise and 142 women randomized to usual activity. The exercise intervention consisted of individual facility-based aerobic exercise training three times per week for 12 weeks. VMS frequency and bother were recorded on daily diaries at baseline and on weeks 6 and 12. Intent-to-treat analyses compared between-group differences in changes in VMS frequency and bother, sleep symptoms (Insomnia Severity Index and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), and mood (Patient Health Questionnaire-8 and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 questionnaire).


At the end of week 12, changes in VMS frequency in the exercise group (mean change, -2.4 VMS/d; 95% CI, -3.0 to -1.7) and VMS bother (mean change on a four-point scale, -0.5; 95% CI, -0.6 to -0.4) were not significantly different from those in the control group (-2.6 VMS/d; 95% CI, -3.2 to -2.0; P = 0.43; -0.5 points; 95% CI, -0.6 to -0.4; P = 0.75). The exercise group reported greater improvement in insomnia symptoms (P = 0.03), subjective sleep quality (P = 0.01), and depressive symptoms (P = 0.04), but differences were small and not statistically significant when P values were adjusted for multiple comparisons. Results were similar when considering treatment-adherent women only.


These findings provide strong evidence that 12 weeks of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise do not alleviate VMS but may result in small improvements in sleep quality, insomnia, and depression in midlife sedentary women.

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