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

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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.

Bibliographic note

© 2014 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.


Original languageEnglish
Early online date17 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Exercise, hot flushes, menopause, night sweats, primary care