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Expert describes action plan for menopause

 

For immediate release
April 13, 2006

from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) www.acsm.org

EXPERT DESCRIBES ACTION PLAN FOR MENOPAUSE
Exercise helps manage symptoms during unique stage of life

 

ORLANDO, Fla.  A healthy transition for women facing menopause or experiencing its symptoms includes an exercise regimen, says Barbara Bushman, Ph.D., FACSM.  Experts believe exercise can help manage the physical and physiological changes that result from hormonal alterations associated with menopause.
 
In a presentation today at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 10th-annual Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition in Orlando, Bushman presented an action plan for women, advocating physical activity to alleviate some symptoms and restore a sense of well-being while significant hormonal changes occur during this phase of life.

"During menopausal stages, women are still often pulled in all directions with their children, the workplace and aging parents.  The one thing a lot of women sacrifice is their own health and well-being," said Bushman.  "Women generally consider their time strain the biggest limitation or obstacle to an exercise program, but fail to realize the benefits of exercise are very likely to help them be more productive in all areas of life."

Menopause is the point of a woman's last menstrual cycle, although by definition "menopause" is not confirmed until one year has passed following the last period.  Perimenopause is known as the time leading up to that, and when women are most affected by hormonal changes.  Postmenopause begins following menopause and continues for the rest of a woman's life.

Hot flashes, a dreaded symptom of menopause for many women, appear to be less severe and shorter when managed with exercise.  Research supports this as one of the more beneficial outcomes of activity related specifically to menopause.

"While some aspects of how physical activity will alleviate symptoms are unknown, we believe there's a direct correlation resulting in a better transition during and leading up to menopause," said Bushman.  She points out relaxation techniques involving slow, deep breathing have also been shown in research studies to be effective.

Among other recommendations for symptom relief, Bushman emphasized exercise helps with:
" Sleep.  Activity helps maintain a normal sleep pattern, although Bushman reminds women to avoid becoming overstimulated by exercising too close to bedtime.
" Wellness.  The positive effects of exercise are linked to improved cardiovascular and bone health, as well as reduced risk of breast and colon cancer in women.
" Muscular Fitness.  Bushman notes one study showed 40 percent of women (55-64 years old) could not lift 10 lbs.  She advocates women include resistance training to increase overall strength and endurance during this time of life.

"Our 'Action Plan' is focused on getting women to make exercise a priority, as much as any other time in life.  We encourage women to schedule it in just as any other important appointment," she said.  "Don't make a promise to be an early morning exerciser if you can't get out of bed in the morning.  Learn what works for you during your day, and set a beginning goal to exercise three days each week."
Bushman is the lead author of ACSM's Action Plan for Menopause.  For more information on this publication, visit ACSM online at http://www.acsm.org/.

ACSM's Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition is going on now at The Buena Vista Palace at Walt Disney World. For more information on the event, or to speak with staff in the on-site media office, please call 407-938-6156 (through Friday, April 14, 2006).

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 20,000 International, National and Regional members are dedicated to promoting and integrating scientific research, education and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health and quality of life.