Written by: April Flowers, for redOrbit - Your Universe Online
As women of a certain age can tell you, menopause comes with a variety of challenges. A new study from the Group Health Research Institute reveals that a 12-week yoga class and continuing to practice at home can help with some of those challenges, but not all.
The study, published online in Menopause, is part of a MsFLASH (Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health) randomized controlled trial. The results highlighted a link between yoga and a decrease in insomnia for menopausal women. There does not seem to be a link between yoga and the cessation or decrease of hot flashes or night sweats, however.
“Many women suffer from insomnia during menopause, and it’s good to know that yoga may help them,” said lead author Katherine Newton, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute.
“Hormone therapy is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for hot flashes and night sweats,” Dr. Newton said, “and fewer women are opting for hormone therapy these days.” The purpose of the MsFLASH trial was to see if three more “natural” approaches – yoga, fish oil, or aerobic exercise – might help ease these symptoms of menopause.
The researchers recruited 249 healthy, previously sedentary women at multiple sites, including Group Health, to do yoga, a moderate aerobic exercise program, or neither—and to take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement or a placebo.
The research team found that aerobic exercise seemed linked to slightly improved sleep, a decrease in insomnia and less depression. Yoga also showed a link to better quality sleep and less depression. The effects of both approaches, though, were not statistically significant. The team found no link to improvement of hot flashes, night sweats, sleep or mood with the omega-3 supplement.