The effects of aerobic exercise on premenstrual syndrome symptoms

Date of Completion

January 1995


Psychology, Psychobiology|Health Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology|Health Sciences, Recreation




This study examined the effects of a 3-month aerobic exercise training program on premenstrual syndrome (PMS). From an initial pool of 216 volunteers, 45 sedentary but healthy women (age range, 18-45 years) completed a 21-item prospective Daily Ratings Form (DRF) for the duration of the study. Upon the completion of the first DRF, all women underwent a maximal graded exercise test to assess their aerobic capacity. For the following three menstrual cycles, 9 women with PMS $\rm(\bar x\ age\pm1SD, 31.7\pm9.1 years)$ underwent a low intensity $\rm(40\%\ \dot VO\sb2 max)$ aerobic training program, three times per week for a duration of 45 minutes for 3 consecutive menstrual cycles (PLOW). Another 10 women with PMS $\rm(\bar x\ age, 29.9\pm9.9 years)$ participated in a moderate intensity $\rm(70\%\ \dot VO\sb2 max)$ aerobic training program (PMOD). Another group of 11 women with PMS (PCON) $\rm(\bar x\ age, 33.7\pm8.7)$ and 15 women without PMS (NPCON) $\rm(\bar x\ age, 28.8\pm11.2)$ did not participate in any exercise and remained sedentary for the following three menstrual cycles. No baseline differences existed between the four groups with respect to age, % body fat or $\rm\dot VO\sb{2 max}$ $(p>0.05).$ The average $\rm\dot VO\sb{2 max}$ recorded from the pre-test was $\rm 26.67\pm5.3 ml.kg\sp{-1}.min\sp{-1}.$ Post-test scores indicated a significant change in $\rm\dot VO\sb{2 max}$ in the PMOD and PLOW groups, increasing by 5.43 $\rm ml.kg\sp{-1}.min\sp{-1}$ and 3.01 $\rm ml.kg\sp{-1}.min\sp{-1},$ respectively $(p\le0.05).$ Discriminant function analysis on the 21-item DRF yielded four PMS subgroups; dysphoric mood, anxiety, hydration, and functional impairment. Repeated measures ANOVA on the mean late-luteal scores for each PMS subgroup yielded significant group differences and group x treatment $(p\le0.05).$ Subsequent analyses revealed that the women in the PLOW and PMOD groups reported significant decrease in their PMS symptomatology on all PMS subgroups across time $(p\le0.05).$ No differences were found between the PLOW and PMOD groups across time. The results of the study indicate that aerobic exercise was successful in the diminution of all PMS symptom subgroups. Moreover, it appears that these benefits are independent of the intensity of exercise, and can be at low levels of exercise intensity. ^