Women who suffer from menopausal hot flashes may enjoy relief if they lose weight, assuming that they’re overweight to begin with. This news comes from study results (Archives of Internal Medicine, July 2010).
It stands to reason that losing weight will go a long way in hot flash relief, because women in the study with higher BMI’s (body mass index) reported greater hot flashes, as well as more frequent episodes, when compared to women with a lower body mass index.
BMI correlates to excess fat and is calculated by taking a person’s body weight in kilograms and dividing it by her height in meters squared. The study, led by Alison J. Huang, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, involved two groups of menopausal women who suffered from hot flashes, average age of 53.
One group was instructed to follow a 1,200 to 1,500 calorie a day diet, as well as exercise at least 200 minutes per week. The other group was the control group. Not surprisingly, weight loss, reductions in BMI, and reductions in abdominal girth, were all associated with improvement in hot flash symptoms, which were self-reported (both at the beginning of the six-month study and at the conclusion).
The study concluded: “Our findings indicate that women who are overweight or obese and experience bothersome hot flushes may also experience improvement in these symptoms after pursuing behavioral weight loss strategies; however, improvements in weight or body composition may not be the only mediators of this effect.”
Some women dropped out of the study, and this may have altered the results somewhat. Nevertheless, as a certified personal trainer, I say that loss of excess weight would, indeed, bring on relief for menopausal hot flashes — it’s intuitive that any improvement in the body’s status, of which loss of excess weight is one, would subdue hot flashes.
The type of exercise used in the study was walking or similar-intensity activities. I recommend brisk walking or slower hill walking outdoors, and always wear walking shoes. If you use a treadmill, swing the arms because if you hold on, this will prevent many muscles in your legs from working, and will result in insignificant calorie burn, even if the treadmill’s calorie counter shows a high number. The calorie counter is built into the program and is based on the speed and incline, whether you’re holding on or swinging your arms.
It’s best to mix up your exercise for variety, and to practice portion control. Increase fiber/fruit/vegetable intake, restrict sugar, replace soda with water or homemade lemonade sweetened with Stevia, and ditch the fast foods – this may be easier than you think. The weight loss will surely help relieve your menopausal hot flashes.