Thermotherapy as an alternative to exercise for metabolic health in obese postmenopausal women: focus on circulating irisin level

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2022 Nov 1;26(6):501-509. doi: 10.4196/kjpp.2022.26.6.501.


Irisin is a myokine caused by exercise that improves insulin resistance and weight loss. However, under unfavorable conditions such as air pollution, and during the pandemic, outdoor activities are uncomfortable. Therefore, in this study, the effect of heat therapy (half bath 42 ± 0.5°C for 30 min) on irisin circulation levels as an exercise alternative for middle-aged obese women after menopause was investigated. Subjects were 33 women aged 49.54 ± 6.04 years, with parameters of height, 160.12 ± 4.33 cm, weight, 69.71 ± 7.52 kg, body surface area 1.73 ± 0.13 m2, body mass index, 27.19 ± 3.40 kg/m2. The results suggest that circulating irisin levels showed a significant increase after one-time thermotherapy (TH-1). However, the increase in circulating irisin levels after 15 treatments (TH-15, 5 days/week, 3 weeks) was significantly varied. The level of adiponectin, which increases fatty oxidation to reduce fatty deposition, increased significantly at TH-1, but further increased at TH-15, which was significantly different from the level of TH-1. In addition, the basic serum free fatty acid (FFA) level was significantly increased at TH-15 compared to TH-1. Significant differences were also found in the lipid profile (body mass index, waist circumference, and % body fat). Thermotherapy can significantly increase the tympanic temperature and induce changes in circulating irisin and adiponectin levels. Thus, it resulted in positive changes in FFA and lipid profiles. Therefore, repeated thermotherapy is effective in increasing circulating irisin levels in postmenopausal obese women.

Keywords: Adiponectin; Free fatty acid; Half bath; Irisin; Thermotherapy.