Women need support to stay active during menopause, says new report

Mental health charity SAMH are calling for increased education across healthcare and sport on the affects of menopause.

Women experiencing the menopause need urgent support to remain physically active, a new report has stated.

Research found the menopause is a barrier to being active with 57% of women surveyed reporting a decrease in their activity levels which negatively impacted their mental wellbeing.

Of those surveyed, 94% reported a change in mood, including low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem.

The report Moving Through Menopause, commissioned by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), was commissioned by the University of Edinburgh.

It found that women who met the physical activity guidelines, as set out by UK Chief Medical Officers, had greater mental wellbeing than those who did not.

SAMH are now calling for increased education across healthcare and sport settings on the affects of menopause.

Catherine, who participated in the research, described how exercise was a “lifeline” for her mental health despite physical struggles with menopause.

The jog leader with jogscotland, said: “I’m a passionate exerciser, it really is my happiness.

Catherine, who participated in the SAMH research.

“My own menopause symptoms were so awful, there were times when I was only able to exercise a little bit – but mentally it was a lifeline.

“Movement – any movement –is so important. One of the key things is that people feel comfortable turning up to an exercise group and doing what they can, whether that’s modifying exercises or adjusting their activity level. If that’s too much, a 10-minute walk and a chat can make all the difference.”

The research also revealed women need better signposting to support services and a greater effort to “normalise” menopause.

SAMH, which celebrates 100 years in 2023, launched the report on Tuesday at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh.

Speakers included Jenni Minto, the Scottish Government’s minister for public health and women’s health.

Jenni Minto, the Scottish Government’s minister for public health and women’s health.

She was joined by survey participants, researchers from The University of Edinburgh and representatives from jogscotland, whose Menopause Friendly campaign supports running groups to be more inclusive.

Minto said: “I’m very pleased to see this new research from SAMH and the University of Edinburgh, highlighting the positive impact of physical activity on both physical and mental wellbeing as women experience menopause.  

“The themes that have emerged from this research align with the aims of the Women’s Health Plan in which menopause is a top priority. Our plan sets out actions to raise awareness around women’s health, improve access to health care for women across their lives, and improve health outcomes for women and girls.”

Jo Anderson, director of influence and change at SAMH

Jo Anderson, director of influence and change at SAMH, said: “We are grateful to all the women who took part in Moving Through Menopause, for being open in sharing their experiences and ideas for positive change, and to the team at the University of Edinburgh for facilitating this research.

“The recommendations set out in this report can make a real and positive difference to women’s lives, empowering them to become or stay active, while at the same time supporting their mental health and wellbeing.  

“The need for change is clear and SAMH stands ready to play our part. This research is a solid foundation from which to expand our work relating to the menopause, and support women to be healthy and well in this critical life stage.”

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