Physical performance in relation to menopause status and physical activity

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Objective:The aim of this study was to examine differences in physical performance (muscle power, muscle strength, aerobic capacity, and walking speed) across menopausal stages and potential of leisure physical activity (PA) to modify the impact of menopause on physical performance.Methods:In this cross-sectional study, women aged 47 to 55 were randomly selected from the Finnish National Registry and categorized as premenopausal (n = 233), perimenopausal (n = 381), or postmenopausal (n = 299) based on serum concentrations of follicle-stimulating hormone and bleeding diary. Physical performance was measured by knee extension force, handgrip force, vertical jumping height, maximal walking speed, and 6-minute walking distance. PA level was assessed by self-report and categorized as low, moderate, or high. Multivariate linear regression modeling was used for data analysis.Results:After including fat mass, height, PA, and education in the model, the postmenopausal women showed 12.0 N weaker (P < 0.001) handgrip force and 1.1 cm lower (P < 0.001) vertical jumping height than the premenopausal women. There was no significant interaction between menopausal stage and PA on physical performance. The peri- and postmenopausal women with a high PA, however, showed better performance in the maximal knee extension strength and 6-minute walking test, and showed greater lower body muscle power than those with a low PA.Conclusions:Menopause status is associated with muscle strength and power, whereas the association between menopause status and mobility/walking is clearly weaker. A high leisure PA level provides more capacity to counteract the potential negative influence of menopausal factors on muscle function.

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