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For Postmenopausal Women – A Little Exercise Can Mean A Lot

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, March 14, 2008 11:47 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Women's Health, Osteoporosis, Obesity

For postmenopausal women who are overweight or obese, even ten minutes a day of exercise can deliver many life quality improvements according to an ongoing study by the American Heart Association.


  • American Osteopathic Association on Exercise and Postmenopausal women here
  • American Heart Association study summary here

IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockphoto/ ranplett

Are you already overwhelmed about breaking your January resolution to spend hours in the gym every week pumping iron, logging miles or counting reps and sets?

Start small, say researchers in this National Institutes of Health study.

A walk for as little as 20 minutes to a half hour three times a week will yield results in your mood and energy. Or you could choose as little as ten minutes every day of the week. Either way a little exercise can improve the quality of life for sedentary, heavy and even obese women.

That information presented Thursday at an American Heart Association conference in Colorado Springs adds to the growing evidence that a little can mean a lot.

Timothy Church and his colleagues at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge recruited 430 sedentary women who were either obese or just overweight. The average age was 57.

The prescription was simple – while some did no exercise, others accumulated about 70 minutes a week, 135 minutes or 190 minutes during which time they were supervised with a heart-rate monitor and step counter.  Most of the exercise was done in three or four week sessions.

Pre-exercise a quality of life survey asked about their ability to do daily tasks, social interactions, energy level and depression.

After six months the women reported “striking” improvements including:

• Energy level: 17%

• Performing work tasks or other activities: 11.5%

• Emotional health: 12%

• Everyday tasks: 7%

• Enjoying or participating in social activities: 5%

Maybe not surprisingly the women who did three hours of brisk walking per week, the 193 minute group reported the biggest improvements in vitality, energy level, balance, bone building, mental health and happiness.

The happiness reports were not tied to weight loss, though some did lose weight as well. 

“This has not been shown in a large controlled study before” says investigator Dr. Church said in a statement.

"This is the first large controlled study of postmenopausal women to look at the effect of exercise training on the quality of life. It shows that exercise gives you energy and makes you feel better."

How to start?   Begin with the 20 to 30 minutes three times a week and work up from there, she suggest as that group too saw improvements.

The women were all postmenopausal and were participants in the Dose Response to Exercise (DREW) study which first reported in 2007 on the exercise effects on postmenopausal women.

Church is working on a book Move Yourself. #

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