The sedentary women were also more likely to be obese and to have higher scores on depression, anxiety, and insomnia scales, the study revealed.
"Less menopause misery is just one of the positive impacts of being active for women at midlife," said JoAnn V Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society in Ohio, US
The study found 64 per cent of women leading a sedentary lifestyle. Some 16 per cent of them had severe menopause symptoms compared with 11 per cent of the active women.
Results of earlier studies on the ability of exercise to reduce menopause symptoms have been conflicting, but this study, published online in the journal Menopause, adds some weight to the exercise side of the equation.
The study analysed data from the Collaborative Group for Research of the Climacteric in Latin America surveys and health records of 6,079 women, ages 40 to 59, who attended one of 20 urban health centres in 11 Latin American countries.
Symptoms on the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) questionnaire include somatic symptoms, such as hot flashes and joint pains, psychological symptoms such as depressed mood and anxiety, and urogenital symptoms such as sexual problems, vaginal dryness, and bladder problems.
The women also answered other questions, such as what their activity level and menopause status were.
Women were considered to be sedentary if they reported fewer than 3 weekly sessions of physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, that lasted 30 minutes or longer, and menopause symptoms were considered severe if the MRS score was 16 or more.
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