Impact of a 10-week structured exercise class on the perceptions of vasomotor symptoms experienced by perimenopausal women : a qualitative collective case study / by Reija Karioja.
Karioja, Reija Carlene
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Menopause is a natural progression in the aging process and signals the end of the woman's reproductive life. Menopause has been associated with the occurrence of a range of symptoms that affect every aspect of the woman's life. One group of symptoms experienced by the majority of mid-life women are hot flashes and nights sweats, referred to in the research community as vasomotor symptoms. The experience of these symptoms is a subjective event, one that is as unique as the women themselves. Vasomotor symptoms may be disruptive in nature and affect the physical, psychological and social aspects of some women's lives. For the women who are negatively affected by this symptom, the usual recourse is to go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, negative side effects of HRT have been widely publicized, causing women to seek other alternatives, including cardiovascular exercise. This study provided the opportunity to explore how, through a structured exercise class, cardiovascular exercise affects the experience of vasomotor symptoms perceived by a group of perimenopausal women. Through a collective case study utilizing mixed methods, the experiences of four women were followed over the course of ten weeks. During this time, the women undertook a structured exercise class that was held for one hour, three times per week at a fitness facility. The results of this study are promising. All four of the participants in this study experienced a decrease in the frequency and/or the severity of their vasomotor symptoms. There were also other benefits of participating in the study that emerged from the data. The women reported improvements in their self-esteem and self-confidence. They also developed a sense of belonging through experiencing this class together and drew upon each other as a source of motivation.