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Exercise after menopause shows benefits.

Women participating in an exercise regimen over a three-year period showed improved postmenopausal symptoms and numerous gains in health and fitness, according to an ongoing German study. The research is reported in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

"Participants who kept up the exercise regimen showed lasting benefits for heart and bone health, as well as increased strength and an easing of the symptoms of menopause," said Wolfgang Kemmler, Ph.D., lead researcher for the study. "These results point the way to health and fitness improvements that are available to all women."

Study participants were women in early menopause (one to eight years) who showed signs of calcium loss from the spine or hip. The exercise group performed four exercise sessions weekly: two supervised sessions and two at home. The routine included low- and high-impact aerobics and rope-skipping for endurance, as well as jumping, dynamic, and isometric exercises for strength. All participants kept diet logs and took vitamin D and calcium supplements as needed.

Investigators at the University of Erlangen in Germany found that the women who exercised showed stabilized bone mineral density (BMD) compared with severely reduced bone density in the control group, as well as decreased total cholesterol and triglycerides--both of which increased in the control group.

Other benefits included reduced waist size, as well as improved muscle strength and endurance. The active women also reported modest reductions in common menopausal symptoms such as insomnia, migraines and mood changes, but no changes in hot flashes or depression.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:May 1, 2005
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