A new study conducted by the University of Massachusetts has found that there is no link between exercise and menopause. This was the largest ever study performed to seek an answer to the old wives’ tale.
There have been a number of differing opinions on the link between the amount of exercise performed and the risk of menopause in older women. Some studies purported that very active individuals can reduce the risk of experiencing menopause at an early age; others have experienced the opposite.
The new study gathered data from over 107,000 women across the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 42. The study then followed these women for a period of 20 years, concluding that there is no link between the onset of menopause and their level of physical activity.
They concluded their results by using a metabolic equivalent (MET) score to estimate the number of total MET hours per week. For example, women who reported a MET score of three hours per week were not at a higher risk than those who performed 42 hours or more, the equivalent of briskly walking for eight hours per week.
Professor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, the study director, notes the importance of the findings.
“Our study provides considerable information in helping us understand the relationship between activity and timing of menopause; this is because of its size, its focus on early menopause specifically, and because of its prospective design, which limited the likelihood of bias and allowed us to look at physical activity at different time periods,” she says.
In the past, many studies have linked menopause to failing mental health, particularly Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. However, while most people who suffer from Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65, over 200,000 Americans have early onset Alzheimer’s before this age.
Like menopause, Alzheimer’s is affected by a variety of factors including sex, genetics, lifestyle choices, and brain metabolism. These all play a significant role in cognitive function. Since menopause is linked to a change in brain metabolism, some believe women are at a heightened risk for Alzheimer’s compared to men.
Even though exercise is not linked to the onset of menopause, there are still ways to combat the toll it takes on the body.
To combat the effects of menopause, an estimated 1.4 million women use bioidentical hormone treatment. Roberta Brinton, a professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who studies Alzheimer’s reports the best time to partake take hormone replacement therapy is during perimenopause, before menopause sets in.
However, it’s still essential that people of all ages partake in regular physical exercise.
Physical exercise is key to preventing health issues later in life. It not only lowers the risk of cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and even breast cancer. Doctors also recommend eating a well-balanced diet high in calcium and vitamin D.