Stretching for just 10 minutes a day could help ease symptoms of menopause and even depression, a study has found.
Among women who stretched for 10 minutes before bed, five times a week, symptoms of menopause were reduced compared to those who did nothing at all.
While stretching didn’t help reduce hot flushes, it did help boost mood, improve sleep quality and reduce aches and pains, the research suggested.
In the small study, published in the journal Menopause, 40 Japanese women aged 40-61 were randomly assigned to two groups. More than half of the participants were postmenopausal and nearly two-thirds had depression.
Half of the group was randomly assigned to stretch for 10 minutes a day, before bed, for three weeks.
The other half was instructed to remain sedentary before bed.
Before the stretching task began, researchers asked all of the women about their menopausal symptoms, including whether they had hot flushes and chills, as well as whether they experienced fluctuations in mood, trouble sleeping and bodily aches.
They issued a further questionnaire to evaluate symptoms of depression.
This process was then repeated after group one had undergone three weeks of stretching.
Researchers said their was no difference between groups when it came to experiencing hot flushes.
However the women in the stretching group had improved scores on both sets of questions after the three-week study period, compared to those who remained sedentary before bed.
The study concluded: “These findings suggest that 10 minutes of stretching before bedtime decreases menopausal and depressive symptoms in middle-aged, Japanese women.”
Symptoms of the menopause can also be reduced by improving diet, according to NHS guidance.
“Good nutrition is important for all women around the time of the menopause,” the NHS Choices site reads.
“Although there is no special diet that women going through the menopause need to follow, it’s particularly important that they have a healthy, balanced diet with regular meals, as irregular eating can make certain symptoms worse, such as feeling tired.”
It also advises women to get plenty of rest, exercise regularly and try relaxation exercises such as yoga and tai chi to help boost mood.
In a previous study from 2014, University of Washington researchers examined a range of non-drug studies including herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, yoga, exercise and relaxation, to see what effect they had on menopausal women.
They discovered that relaxation therapies such as yoga were most beneficial.
“Selected mind-body therapies may provide useful treatment for menopausal symptoms, although properly controlled studies are still required to confirm these benefits,” said lead author, Professor Nancy Woods.
Yoga showed significant treatment effects for hot flushes and cognitive symptoms. In certain groups it also showed benefits for sleep, mood and pain symptoms.