Walk out on PMS

Today's top medical news and feel-better tips Symptoms eased with exercise, study hints

Attention premenstrual syndrome sufferers: Take a walk!

A study suggests that a regular routine of walking or other physical activity may take the bite out of the syndrome's nagging symptoms.

Researchers at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana, compared two small groups of women suffering from PMS. One group of eight women began a fitness program that consisted of walking and jogging four times a week; the other group of five women remained sedentary.

After four months on the fitness program, the exercise group reported that their PMS symptoms were reduced significantly. The symptoms reported as improving the most were mood swings, increased appetite and crying. Anxiety, breast tenderness, craving for sweets, fluid retention and depression also diminished (Annals of Sports Medicine).

The researchers think that exercise may have an anti-PMS effect by increasing levels of beta-endorphins, chemical messengers in the brain that help increase feelings of well- being. That would explain the decreases in anxiety, crying, depression and mood swings. A jump in beta- endorphins may also have a hand in improving glucose tolerance--cutting the craving for sweets, the researchers theorize.

Because this study is so small, the results must be considered preliminary. But since walking is such an easy, health- building exercise, people with PMS certainly have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

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