Blood pressure and leg strength of postmenopausal women found to improve by climbing stairs
Postmenopausal women have low estrogen levels, which are associated with vascular problems such as high blood pressure and muscle problems causing loss of leg strength. However, there may be a simple solution for this. The latest research published in Menopause suggests that climbing stairs can help lower blood pressure and build leg strength.
How is menopause linked to blood pressure?
The medical community is of the opinion that estrogen deficiencies associated with menopause or hormone therapy can cause high blood pressure.
Sometimes, hormonal changes can cause blood pressure to react to salt-intake in the diet. Since higher salt intake is associated with high blood pressure, even a slight increase in the salt added to food can cause blood pressure to spike in postmenopausal women.
Menopausal and postmenopausal women are advised to maintain a healthy weight by exercising and eating foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lower amounts of processed foods and fats.
This can be a challenging and daunting task for many women, as they need to consider their health status and identify the exercises that do less bodily harm and give them the desired benefits.
Many post-menopausal women experience age-related muscle loss, and one way of dealing with this is through resistance training. However, exercise can raise blood pressure levels of middle-aged adults.
This side-effect can be reduced by combining aerobics with resistance training. However, such training requires professional supervision and isn’t accessible to all women who need it. It may not be available in nearby fitness centers and poor weather can prevent women from traveling. Women may also not go for training if they feel embarrassed or do not have the time to do so.
Importance of climbing stairs
This is a simple exercise that does not require an investment of time or money, nor does it require training or cause embarrassment. At the same time, it provides the benefits of aerobic and resistance training, which are as follows:
- It improves cardiorespiratory fitness
- It helps to increase the strength of leg muscles
- It reduces the risk of osteoporosis, arterial stiffness, and high blood pressure
- It helps to lose fat weight
- It reduces bad cholesterol and improves lipid profiles
Takeaways from the new study
The study involved the participation of postmenopausal women in South Korea suffering from severe high blood pressure. It aimed to establish the effect of climbing stairs on blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and leg strength. The women trained four days per week and climbed 192 steps two to five times a day.
The researchers observed that climbing helped women reduce the arterial stiffness, reduce blood pressure, and improve leg strength.
Menopause and age have a combined negative effect on the vascular system and strength of leg muscles. According to Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, the study shows how simple interventions such as climbing stairs could help to prevent or reduce these effects.
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