Sedentary Women Experienced Worse Menopause Symptoms

Woman watching television
Woman watching television
Sedentary lifestyles were common among middle-aged Hispanic women and were also associated with worse menopausal symptoms.

Middle-aged Hispanic women in Latin America with sedentary lifestyles had significantly worse menopause symptoms, as compared with their active peers, according to data published in Menopause.

The analysis included information from the Collaborative Group for Research of the Climacteric in Latin America surveys and from health records for 6079 women aged 40 to 59 years who attended 1 of 20 health centers in 11 Latin American countries.

Researchers administered the Menopause Rating Scale to assess participants’ somatic symptoms, including hot flashes and joint pains, psychological symptoms such as depressed mood and anxiety, and urogenital symptoms such as sexual problems, vaginal dryness, and bladder problems. Symptoms were deemed severe if the score reached 16 or higher.

Additionally, researchers administered the Goldberg Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Athens Insomnia Scale, defined sedentary lifestyle as fewer than 3 weekly, 30-minute periods of physical activity like walking, jogging, or swimming.

Among all participants, 64% had a sedentary lifestyle. Sixteen percent of these women vs 11% of active women reported severe menopause symptoms. Total Menopause Rating Scale scores were significantly higher for sedentary vs active women (9.57 vs 8.01; P<.0001). Sedentary women also had more depressive symptoms, anxiety, and insomnia than their active counterparts.

Mean waist circumference was greater among sedentary vs active women (86.2 cm vs 84.3 cm; P<.0001), as was obesity prevalence (20.9% vs 14.3%; P<.0001).

Further analysis revealed a positive association between sedentary lifestyle and both menopausal symptoms (odds ratio [OR]=1.28; 95% CI, 1.32-1.76), and obesity (OR=1.52; 95% CI, 1.32-1.76).

The researchers found negative associations, however, between sedentary lifestyle and having a stable partner (OR=0.85; 95% CI, 0.76-0.96), using hormone therapy (OR=0.75; 95% CI, 0.64-0.87), and having a higher education level (OR=0.66; 95% CI, 0.60-0.74).

Though the evidence linking exercise and reduced menopause symptoms is inconsistent, physical activity has many benefits for women, JoAnn V. Pinkerton, MD, NCMP, the executive director of the North American Menopause Society noted in a press release.

“Regular physical activity reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer, dementia, heart attacks, stroke, and depression; loss of lean muscle mass, and bone loss; and improves immune system function,” she noted in the release. “One study showed that just 1 hour of walking daily cut the risk of obesity by 24%. Fewer hot flashes, fewer health risks, increased well-being — who doesn’t want these benefits?”


  1. Blümel JE, Fica J, Chedraui P, et al; for the Collaborative Group for Research of the Climacteric in Latin America. Sedentary lifestyle in middle-aged women is associated with severe menopausal symptoms and obesity. Menopause. 2016. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000000575.