HomeHealthPopular outdoor activity may reduce menopause symptoms, study finds

Popular outdoor activity may reduce menopause symptoms, study finds

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Menopausal women who make swimming in cold water part of their routine report significant improvements to their physical and mental health, a new study finds.

Of the 785 women surveyed, 46.9% said swimming eased their anxiety; 34.5% said it helped their mood swings; 31.1% said it elevated their mood; and 30.3% said it reduced their hot flashes.

The findings, from University College London researchers, were published this week in the journal Post Reproductive Health.

“Cold water has previously been found to improve mood and reduce stress in outdoor swimmers, and ice baths have long been used to aid athletes’ muscle repair and recovery,” senior study author Joyce Harper said in a statement.

Menopausal women who make swimming in cold water part of their routine report significant improvements to their physical and mental health, a new study finds. Netfalls – stock.adobe.com

“Our study supports these claims, meanwhile the anecdotal evidence also highlights how the activity can be used by women to alleviate physical symptoms, such as hot flushes, aches and pains,” she added.

Menopause — when a woman has gone 12 months without a period — typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Symptoms include anxiety, mood changes, discomfort during sex, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, sleep problems, weight gain, and slowed metabolism.

63.3% of the menopausal women polled online for the study said they swim specifically to relieve symptoms.

One 57-year-old woman stated: “Cold water is phenomenal. It has saved my life. In the water, I can do anything. All symptoms (physical and mental) disappear and I feel like me at my best.”

The findings, from University College London researchers, were published this week in the journal Post Reproductive Health. banthita166 – stock.adobe.com

Harper shared that those who swam for longer periods experienced more pronounced effects.

Most of the participants would venture out in the summer and the winter, wearing swimsuits instead of wetsuits. Wetsuits are designed to keep users warm.

“Caution must be taken when cold water swimming, as participants could put themselves at risk of hypothermia, cold water shock, cardiac rhythm disturbances or even drowning,” Harper noted.

“Depending on where they are swimming, water quality standards may also vary,” she added. “Raw sewage pollution is an increasingly common concern in UK rivers and seas. And, sadly, this can increase the likelihood of gastroenteritis and other infections.”

One 57-year-old woman stated: “Cold water is phenomenal. It has saved my life. In the water, I can do anything. All symptoms (physical and mental) disappear and I feel like me at my best.” Netfalls – stock.adobe.com

Harper said more research should be done on the frequency, duration, temperature and exposure needed to cause a reduction in menopause symptoms.

Her team also studied the effects of cold water swimming on women who still get periods.

Of the 711 women who experienced menstrual symptoms, 46.7% reported that cold water swimming improved their anxiety; 37.7% said it helped their mood swings, and 37.6% said it decreased their irritability.

The researchers acknowledged some limitations to their study — including that the survey was only taken by women who already swim in cold water. And these women were more likely to complete the poll if they noticed a link between cold water swimming and their symptoms.




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