Previous research has shown that middle-aged women who lead a sedentary lifestyle experience significantly worse menopausal symptoms – including hot flashes and joint pains – than their more active counterparts. These negative health effects may be reversed with short bursts of exercise, according to a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.1

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney devised a study to examine the effects of an exercise bike sprint interval training (SIT) program on cardiovascular function and aerobic fitness in overweight postmenopausal women.

The researchers divided 40 participants into 2 groups: an exercise intervention group and a control group. The SIT program group performed 20-minute sprints 3 times a week for 8 weeks.

Women who participated in the exercise intervention group added 0.7 kg of muscle to their legs and trunk, and lost 0.4 kg of body fat. They increased their aerobic fitness by 12%.2

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“The increase in muscle mass after 8 hours of sprinting equates to an 86-gram gain per hour of sprint exercise,” said Yati Boutcher, MD, lecturer at UNSW, who led the research. “This compares favorably to the effect of weight training, which in postmenopausal women has typically shown a 40g gain in muscle mass per hour.”

References

  1. Zhang D, Janjgava T, Boutcher SH, Boutcher YN. Cardiovascular response of postmenopausal women to 8 weeks of sprint interval training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2019;119(4):981-989.
  2. Eight hours of interval sprinting can reverse negative effects of menopause. UNSW Sydney. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 24, 2019.