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Exercise participation, body mass index, and health-related quality of life in women of menopausal age

Daley, A. and MacArthur, C. and Stokes-Lampard, H. and McManus, R. and Wilson, S. and Mutrie, N. (2007) Exercise participation, body mass index, and health-related quality of life in women of menopausal age. British Journal of General Practice, 57 (535). pp. 130-135. ISSN 0960-1643

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Abstract

Menopausal symptoms can affect women's health and wellbeing. It is important to develop interventions to alleviate symptoms, especially given recent evidence resulting in many women no longer choosing to take hormone replacement therapy. Exercise may prove useful in alleviating symptoms, although evidence on its effectiveness has been conflicting. The study aimed to examine the association between exercise participation, body mass index (BMI), and health-related quality of life in women of menopausal-age. Women aged 46-55 years (n = 2399) registered with six general practices in the West Midlands were sent a questionnaire containing items relating to demographics, lifestyle factors, weight, height, exercise participation, menopausal bleeding patterns, and health-related quality of life (including vasomotor symptoms). One thousand two hundred and six (50.3%) women replied. Women who were regularly active reported better health-related quality of life scores than women who were not regularly active (P<0.01 for all significant subscales). No difference in vasomotor symptoms was recorded for exercise status. Women who were obese reported significantly higher vasomotor symptom scores than women of normal weight (P<0.01). Women who were obese reported significantly higher somatic symptoms (P<0.001) and attractiveness concern scores (P<0.001) than women of normal weight or those who were overweight. The data suggest a positive association between somatic and psychological dimensions of health-related quality of life and participation in regular exercise. Women with BMI scores in the normal range reported lower vasomotor symptom scores and better health-related quality of life scores than heavier women. Further evidence from high-quality randomised controlled trials is required to assess whether exercise interventions are effective for management of menopausal symptoms.