Influence of Estradiol Status on Physical Activity in Premenopausal Women

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018 Aug;50(8):1704-1709. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001598.


Purpose: This study aimed to determine the effects of 5 months of ovarian hormone suppression in premenopausal women on objectively measured physical activity (PA).

Methods: Participants (age, 35 ± 8 yr; body mass index, 27 ± 6 kg·m) received monthly intramuscular injections of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRHAG) therapy, which suppresses pituitary gonadotropins and results in suppression of ovarian sex hormones. Women were randomized to receive concurrent transdermal E2 (GnRHAG + E2; n = 30) or placebo (GnRHAG + PL, n = 31). PA was assessed for 1 wk before and during each month of the 5-month intervention using a hip-worn accelerometer (Actical, Mini Mitter Co., Inc., Bend, OR). Estimates of time spent in sedentary, light, and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) were derived using a previously published equation. Subsets of participants in each group were also randomized to a supervised progressive resistance exercise training program.

Results: Total MVPA tended toward being higher (P = 0.08) in the GnRHAG + E2 group at month 4. There were no significant effects of intervention or time in sedentary or light PA. In the subset of women who did not participate in structured exercise training for which Actical data were obtained (n = 16 in each group), total MVPA was higher at month 4 (P = 0.01).

Conclusions: PA levels seem to be maintained at a higher level in women undergoing pharmacological suppression of ovarian function with E2 add-back when compared with women treated with placebo. These data provide proof-of-concept data that E2 contributes to the regulation of PA in humans. However, given the exploratory nature of this study, future confirmatory investigations will be necessary.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Estradiol / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / agonists
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovary / drug effects
  • Ovary / physiology*
  • Premenopause / physiology*
  • Proof of Concept Study
  • Resistance Training


  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Estradiol