If you are sick of taking pills every month to ease that period pain, why not hit a treadmill? Yes. A new study has found that a treadmill exercise regime can reduce period pain and improve long-term quality of life. As part of the study, researchers conducted a trial over a seven-month period to find out how treadmill exercise benefited women suffering from primary dysmenorrhea, commonly known as period pain.
Women aged between 18 and 43 were asked to take part in a supervised aerobic training regime three times a week for four weeks, beginning the day after the end of their menstrual period, followed by an unsupervised home exercise for six months. Their results were compared with a control group, who carried out their usual regimes. The study found that the women who took part in the supervised exercise reported 6 per cent less pain after four weeks and 22 per cent less pain with continuing the exercise for an additional six months.
Significant benefits of exercise were reported after the seven-month reporting period for other study measures, including a higher quality of life and improved daily functioning. However, the participants did not report any increase in sleep quality following the trial. The study, published in the Journal of Contemporary Clinical Trials, examined the effect of treadmill exercise on measures such as pain intensity, sleep quality and overall quality of life.
“Women who have painful periods often take steps to actively avoid exercise – after all when you are in pain it is often the last thing that you want to partake in. However, this trial demonstrated that exercise significantly reduced pain for those people taking part in the programme, and they also reported reduced pain levels after four and seven months,” said Leica Claydon-Mueller, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University.
According to the team of researchers, the improvements in quality of life scores after seven months were noteworthy, although it was perhaps surprising that there was no significant difference in sleep quality to that of the control group. The team pointed out that these multiple benefits might be considered a ‘package deal’ by women. The evidence supporting the use of aerobic exercise for managing pain, improving quality of life and improving daily functioning has been strengthened by the findings from this research.