Walking Exercise as a Symptom Improvement Therapy for Women in Menopause Transition and Postmenopausal: A Scoping Review

Student Researcher:
Cailey Turner

Supervisors / Principle Investigators:
Beate Sydora
Sue Ross

Additional Authors:
Alexandra Malley
Tami Shandro

MD Class of 2020


Introduction: Menopause is a natural stage in every woman’s life; often accompanied with physical and psychosocial symptoms and an increased risk to adverse health conditions. There is emerging evidence that exercise can improve QOL in menopausal women; however, conclusive evidence is lacking.
Our objective was to conduct a scoping review of published literature to characterise walking programs targeted at menopause-related health issues and to identify features that have positive results.

Methods: A literature search of six biomedical and exercise-related databases for articles published up to June 1, 2017 was completed with keywords related to menopause and walking. Data was collected into EndNote X8 reference manager to identify and remove duplicates. The final selection included articles that studied walking as a health intervention for all peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women. Data was extracted and charted for publication year, author, participant characteristics, symptoms and health issues investigated, walking intervention specifics, and intervention results and outcomes.

Results: Of 3244 articles collected from the six databases 96 papers were selected and charted for the final analysis. Studies described in the papers used a variety of designs; predominantly RCTs (44%) and pre-post test design (41%). Studies included natural walking (n=87) and treadmill exercise (n=11). Specific outcomes included cardiovascular risk factors, (n=45), body weight (n=36), osteoporosis and bone markers (n=25), physical fitness (n=12), mental health (n=7), and sleep disorders (n=4) in addition to general menopause symptoms and QOL. Walking program duration was on average 2.7±1.1 hour/week (n=85) or 14.1±6.0 km/week (n=19) with an average weekly frequency of 3.7±1.0 (n=94). Overall, 92% of these studies showed a beneficial outcome in at least one medical category investigated.

Conclusion: The scoping review provides evidence that walking positively impacts a variety of menopause-related symptoms; however, it also revealed a lack of information on typical menopause symptoms such as vasomotor symptoms.