Exercise and attitude may be thermostat for hot flashes

April 12, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Attitude may play an important role in how exercise affects menopausal women, according to Penn State researchers, who identified two types of women -- one experiences more hot flashes after physical activity, while the other experiences fewer.

"The most consistent factor that seemed to differentiate the two groups was perceived control over ," said Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor of kinesiology. "These have ways of dealing with (hot flashes) and they believe they can control or cope with them in an effective way on a daily basis."

Women who experienced fewer hot flashes the day after participating in vigorous to were more likely to be part of the group that felt they had control over their hot flashes. Women who had more hot flashes following exercise were likely to be those who felt they had very few ways of coping with their hot flashes, Elavsky and her colleagues report in a recent issue of Maturitas.

Elavsky suggested that may help some women feel they have more control over their bodies and reactions to hot flashes.

The participants with fewer hot flashes the day after vigorous exercising were also less likely to experience . However, women who had fewer hot flashes the day after only light or moderate had higher levels of and depression than others.

"The bottom line for research is that people need to look at individual differences," said Elavsky. "It's not enough anymore to do a study and look at overall impact of an on symptoms. It's very clear that we need to look at the different responses that women might have, and try to understand these individual differences more."

Elavsky and her colleagues followed 24 for the length of one , or for 30 days if they were no longer menstruating. Each woman used a personal digital assistant to record hot flashes and wore an accelerometer at the hip to track physical activity. The women in the study regularly had hot flashes before the start of the study, experiencing from five to 20 a day.

"The real-time reporting of symptoms and the objective measurement is a strength of the study," said Elavsky. "There aren't any studies out there that use both of these approaches. … To ask a woman to report a symptom when she's experiencing it is the most valid assessment."

At the beginning of the study, the participants completed evaluations that looked at their depressive symptoms, chronic stress, perceived control over hot flashes, and personality. They had a physical exam where researchers measured levels of reproductive hormones and body composition. Each woman served as her own control, therefore the data was analyzed for each separately.

If a woman experienced a hot flash during the observation period, she entered the event on the PDA, along with the severity and length of the event, where she was, if she had recently consumed a trigger, such as coffee, and included other situational information. At four random times throughout the day, the PDA prompted the woman to assess and record daily stressors and mood. At the end of the day, each completed a fifth assessment and looked retrospectively at how her day went and how well she coped with her hot flashes that day.

"I was surprised by how large the individual differences were," said Elavsky. "I was also surprised that the association was present in terms of statistically significant association only in a handful of women -- and among those, there were two whose physical activity led to more hot flashes the next day and one that had the opposite. Maybe the reason why we don't see the associations in larger studies is because they cancel each other out."

Also working on this research were Peter C. M. Molenaar, professor of human development; Carol H. Gold, research associate for the Center of Healthy Aging; Nancy I. Williams, professor of kinesiology and physiology; and Keith R. Aronson, associate director of the Children, Youth and Families Consortium, all at Penn State.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development supported this research.

Explore further: Hot flashes may be fewer in older, heavier women

Related Stories

Hot flashes may be fewer in older, heavier women

August 31, 2011
A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that among women aged 60 and above, heavier women have fewer hot flashes than their leaner counterparts. ...

Reduction noted in heart rate variability during hot flashes

April 6, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Women experiencing hot flashes have a significant reduction in heart rate variability during the hot flash, suggesting a role for the autonomic nervous system, according to a study published in the April issue ...

Weight gain linked to hot flashes after breast cancer

March 21, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Early-stage breast cancer survivors who gain at least 10 percent of their pre-diagnosis weight are significantly more likely to report hot flashes than those who remain weight stable, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

One in five patients report discrimination in health care

December 14, 2017
Almost one in five older patients with a chronic disease reported experiencing health care discrimination of one type or another in a large national survey that asked about their daily experiences of discrimination between ...

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Your pets can't put your aging on 'paws'

December 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—In a finding that's sure to ruffle some fur and feathers, scientists report that having a pet doesn't fend off age-related declines in physical or mental health.

Searching for a link between achy joints and rainy weather in a flood of data, researchers come up dry

December 13, 2017
Rainy weather has long been blamed for achy joints. Unjustly so, according to new research from Harvard Medical School. The analysis, published Dec. 13 in BMJ, found no relationship between rainfall and joint or back pain.

Mistletoe and (a large) wine: Seven-fold increase in wine glass size over 300 years

December 13, 2017
Our Georgian and Victorian ancestors probably celebrated Christmas with more modest wine consumption than we do today - if the size of their wine glasses are anything to go by. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.