A recent study has examined the effects of exercise on period pain and long-term quality of life.
Period pain is a common problem for women of child bearing age and it has a high socioeconomic impact. The cause of period pain is attributed to increased levels of prostaglandins, which cause hyper contractions of the myometrium (middle layer of the uterine wall), leading to decrease oxygen levels in the uterine muscle. It is believed that aerobic exercise can decrease pain through various mechanisms affecting different pain systems.
A recent study, published in the journal Contemporary Clinical Trials, has sought to examine the effects of a treadmill exercise regimen on period pain and long-term quality of life. The researchers carried out this study over a seven-month period and assessed the benefits of this exercise on women suffering from a form of period pain, clinically referred to as primary dysmenorrhea.
The study included women between the ages of 18 and 43, who were each asked to participate in a supervised aerobic training regimen several times a week for four weeks, starting on the day after the end of their menstrual period. This was then followed by unsupervised exercise at home for a period of six months.
The study found a 6% reduction in reported pain after four weeks and 22% less pain when the exercise was continued for an extra six months when compared with women who did not participate in the exercise program. Further benefits were reported after the seven-month period of exercise, which included better daily functioning and better quality of life. The results suggest that maintaining a consistent exercise routine may be beneficial in improving period pain.
Written by Jade Marie Evans, MPharm, Medical Writer
Kannan P, Chapple CM, Miller D, Claydon-Mueller L, Baxter GD. 2019. Effectiveness of a treadmill-based aerobic exercise intervention on pain, daily functioning, and quality of life in women with primary dysmenorrhea: A randomized controlled trial. Jun;81:80-86. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2019.05.004. Epub 2019 May 7.
Eurekalert . 2019. Taking to the treadmill can ease period pain. [Online]. [11 July 2019]. Available from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-07/aru-ttt070319.php