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Walking can improve health post-menopause

health-and-fitness Updated: Apr 15, 2010 16:39 IST
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Walking for 45 minutes a few times a week may help women in the ‘battle of the bulge’ that often accompanies menopause, and at the same time improve overall well being, hints new research from Canada. Pointing out that the 45 minutes can be broken up into shorter jaunts, researcher Dr. Pascale Mauriège, of Quebec’s Laval University, told Reuters Health in an email it’s a programme that could be ‘easily incorporated’ into a woman’s daily life.

The researchers wanted to know if a 16-week walking programme would help older, overweight inactive women lose some weight, increase their lean body mass and experience a better quality of life. They enrolled 35 moderately obese and sedentary white women who were either nearing menopause or newly post-menopausal. Thirty women finished the programme — 16 premenopausal and 14 postmenopausal. The women, guided by trainers, walked for 45 minutes on an indoor track every other day for 16 weeks. The intensity of the walking was not unlike the intensity of walking a dog, Mauriège said. While moderately obese, all participants were healthy. Of the five participants who dropped out of the study early, three bristled at the programme’s restrictions and wanted to walk more than three days a week.

At the beginning of the study, post and premenopausal women tended to have similar health-related quality of life ratings on such things as body pain, health, vitality, physical and social functioning and emotional and mental health. At the end of the programme, both groups of women appeared to benefit physically and mentally although in different ways.

Greater weight loss was achieved by the premenopausal women who lost an average of about 4.4 pounds compared to 1.5 pounds for the postmenopausal women. They also tended to lose more fat mass. Postmenopausal women, however, tended to benefit with a larger drop in their waist size and from gains in lean body mass.

Still, the findings do suggest that ‘moderate-intensity and moderate-frequency exercise’ easily integrated in life habits seems to be enough to improve health-related quality of life in both premenopausal and early postmenopausal women.