A recent study says a brisk walk can reduce a variety of psychological symptoms such as anxiety, stress and depression. “With the aging population, physical activity represents one way for women to stay mentally healthy,” said Temple University public health researcher Deborah Nelson, Ph.D, the study’s lead author. “Physical activity can help throughout the menopausal transition and afterwards.”
The study followed 380 Philadelphia women for more than eight years. The women reported their physical activity level and menopausal symptoms, which included stress, anxiety, depression and hot flashes.
When it came to stress, researchers found that high levels of physical activity were the most beneficial to postmenopausal women. They reported lower levels of perceived stress than those who did not exercise.
“In the urban setting, these women walked outside on city blocks or in shopping malls. Groups could organize to take walks after dinner. It didn’t require going to the gym,” Nelson said. “You don’t have to run 20 miles a week to reap the benefits of exercise. If you stick to a moderate-paced walking schedule, it can keep your body-mass index down and lower the risk of stress, anxiety and depression,” she added.
Another way to help is companionship. Daily human contact can improve your stress level. Someone with whom you can enjoy activities and who will support you in your quest to remain independent often will improve your mental outlook, too.
Exercise has a double benefit for senior women, including lessening menopausal symptoms and sustaining better overall health. Walking with a companion – a friend, family member or CAREGiverSM — is an even better way to relieve stress and build a healthier outlook.
CAREGivers from Home Instead Senior Care can make a difference in the lives of older adults and their families by providing support with activities of daily living to help keep them independent for as long as possible. For more information visit www.homeinstead.com/greaterpittsburgh or call 1-866-996-1087.
*Source: Temple University. “Walk Away Menopausal Anxiety, Stress And Depression.” http://www.temple.edu/newsroom/2007_2008/01/stories/menopause.htm