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  • Writer's pictureSimmone Cser

Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health during Perimenopause

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

Changes in hormones during perimenopause can most certainly affect your mood and cause a variety of physical symptoms.. Oestrogen is a 'nurturing' hormone. It gives women that caregiver and empathetic nature. Have you noticed this waning as you get older?


Engaging in physical activity can reduce depression and anxiety, which in turn can have a positive impact in the sense of overall well-being. Health outcomes for fatigue, depression and overall life quality are positively affected through a combination of endurance and resistance exercise at a moderate to active level. During exercise certain hormones are elevated in the brain and they can have the effect of performing like an antidepressant drug. It allows the networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization.

Studies have highlighted the benefits of exercise as a means to assist reducing perimenopausal symptoms. Stimulating physiological changes in the body, such as a reduction in insulin resistance and inflammation. Along with stimulating psychological changes, including a reduction in stress and anxiety.


The phenomenon of the runners high, the reported euphoric state after a continued and consistent timeframe of running, has shown that endogenous opioids (endorphins), are released after exercise. Studies show when a runner is at their optimal state of rhythm for at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted activity and are immersed in a euphoric state, that endorphins are released and attach themselves to the limbic area (emotional) and prefrontal area of the brain. High levels of endorphins are found in the brain the longer the euphoric state lasts.


Studies have demonstrated, a lifestyle that is mostly sedentary and devoid of exercise contributed to depression. The overall suggestion is that exercise is beneficial in treating depression and anxiety. Exercise plays a role with the immune system and the body’s ability to cope with stress by means of increasing antioxidants, that can result in a decline of diseases such as inflammatory disorders that can be related to stress.

The beneficial association of exercise and mental health has been widely investigated. Although exercise acts as a stressor on the body, it has shown a notable reduction in the physiological effects of stressors on the body and brain function when undertaken at a moderate level. The positive relationship between exercise and mental health has been demonstrated through clinical evidence. An increase in both plasticity of the brain, and cognitive function have been attributed to exercise.


Briden, L. (2021). The Hormone Repair Manual. Pan Macmillan Australia.

Deslandes, A. et al., (2009). Exercise and Mental Health: Many Reasons to Move. Neuropsychobiology, 59(4), 191–198.

Gould, R.S.W. D. (2015). Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology (6th ed.). Human Kinetics Publishers.

Ramírez-Vélez, R. at al, (2021). Evidence-Based Exercise Recommendations to Improve Mental Wellbeing in Women with Breast Cancer During Active Treatment.

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