Research: This Exercise Style Can Help Ease Away Hot Flashes

Posted in: Exercise
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Susan Ohtake, Certified Personal Trainer

Susan Ohtake, CPT

The sensation of heat that starts in the head and neck and moves throughout the upper body is one of the first signs of menopause. It's sort of like the big introduction to middle age that almost every woman before you has spoken about but you didn't really believe. If you haven't experienced a hot flash yet, then get ready! The good news? I have a suggestion on how you can naturally ease them.

Understanding Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are likely brought on by the decrease in the production of estrogen. As our estrogen levels drop, the hypothalamus area of our brain, which is responsible for regulating body temperature, detects excess body heat. As a result, the brain releases hormones to lower body heat, which causes our heart rate to rise and blood vessels to dilate. The result is copious amounts of sweat that can go through your clothes and ultimately ruin your mood.

However, not every woman has hot flashes! And if you don't experience them, then consider yourself lucky! But, if you do, then the key to reducing your symptoms is leading a healthy lifestyle.

Stopping Hot Flashes In Their Tracks

If you are inactive, smoke tobacco, or are currently obese, then you are more likely to have hot flashes. In addition, if you drink alcohol or caffeine, eat spicy foods, or are currently stressed out, then you're more likely to trigger a hot flash. You're probably thinking that you should just hide under a rock and forget about it, because there's no way you can control the stress. Trust me, I understand. Taking care of a husband, our child, and then trying to take care of myself takes up most of my day. But trust me, if I can get through it, then you can too!

Exercise To Alleviate Hot Flashes

A study found that women who were sedentary were 28 percent more likely to have severe menopause symptoms. Therefore, by just making the decision to exercise, one can alleviate not only hot flashes, but also fatigue, irritability, and trouble sleeping. Does it sound worth it to you? I bet it does!

When we exercise, the brain creates and releases dopamine and serotonin, which controls our mood and alertness. These are chemicals that are likely to drop off as we age as a result of estrogen depletion. Therefore, we NEED exercise to help us restore those chemicals or we're going to have a very difficult time.

Strike Gold With High Intensity Interval Training

The benefit of using HIIT exercises to help with hot flashes is that it doesn't take a lot of time. If you're anything like me, then you probably already have a full plate, so using your time wisely is important. HIIT is also versatile, so you shouldn't get bored with your workouts.

By exercising, we're better able to regulate our body heat and prevent the hot flash from occurring in the first place. A study found that women who exercise decreased their frequency of hot flashes by 60 percent, which sounds good to me!

So, don't be afraid to take 20-30 minutes of your day to not only alleviate hot flashes, but to also get fit. You won't be able to get these results by taking a 30 minute, leisurely stroll at the park either. You're going to have to get your blood flowing to see real results!

References:
  • https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/27/health/menopause-hot-flashes-exercise/index.html
  • https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/exercise-may-ease-hot-flashes-provided-its-vigorous/

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