The effectiveness of exercise as treatment for vasomotor menopausal symptoms: randomised controlled trial

BJOG. 2015 Mar;122(4):565-75. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.13193. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of exercise as treatment for vasomotor menopausal symptoms.

Design: Three-group randomised controlled trial, two exercise interventions and a control group.

Setting: Primary Care, West Midlands UK.

Population: Perimenopausal and postmenopausal women experiencing at least five hot flushes/night sweats per day and not taken MHT in previous 3 months were recruited from 23 general practices.

Methods: Participants in both exercise interventions groups were offered two face-to-face consultations with a physical activity facilitator to support engagement in regular exercise. In addition, one exercise group received a menopause-specific information DVD and written materials to encourage regular exercise and the other exercise group was offered the opportunity to attend exercise social support groups in their communities. Interventions lasted 6 months.

Main outcome measure: The primary outcome was frequency of hot flushes/night sweats at 6-month up.

Results: Two hundred and sixty-one women were randomised (n = 87 per group). Neither of the exercise intervention groups reported significantly less frequent hot flushes/night sweats per week than controls (exercise-DVD versus control: -8.9, 95% CI -20.0 to 2.2; exercise-social support versus control: -5.2, 95% CI -16.7 to 6.3).

Conclusions: This trial indicates that exercise is not an effective treatment for hot flushes/night sweats. Contrary to current clinical guidance, women should not be advised that exercise will relieve their vasomotor menopausal symptoms.

Keywords: Exercise; hot flushes; menopause; night sweats; primary care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hot Flashes / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Menopause* / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Primary Health Care
  • Sweating
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN06495625