The effects of moderate-intensity step-aerobics, spinning, and educational game exercise programs on plasma dopamine and oxytocin levels in women in the menopausal transition period

Effects of exercise on hormone levels in menopausal transition period



Menopausal transition period, Woman, Exercise, Dopamine, Oxytocin


Background/Aim: Menopausal transition (MT) is defined as the transition from reproductive to post-reproductive life. Oxytocin has beneficial effects on health problems, such as sexual activity disorder, vaginal atrophy, cardiovascular system diseases and acceleration in bone mass loss, which may develop due to changes in reproductive hormone levels during the MT period. During exercise, which can be used as adjuvant therapy for most of these health problems, a temporary increase in catecholamine levels is required for response to exercise-induced stress. However, the effects of exercise programs applied during the MT period on plasma dopamine (pDA) and plasma oxytocin (pOT) levels are unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of three different types of exercise on plasma dopamine (pDA) and plasma oxytocin (pOT) levels in sedentary women in the MT period.

Methods: Twenty-six sedentary healthy participants in the MT period whose fitness levels in the standard maximal exercise treadmill test were at a level that would complement the exercise programs in our study, were included in the study. Participants with the following conditions were excluded from the study: physical disability that would not allow exercise, systemic disease, unilateral oophorectomy, or history of smoking. In addition, participants who could not complete any of the exercise programs for any reason were excluded from the study. Three different exercise programs at moderate intensity [maximum heart rate (HR) = 50%-60%] of 60 minutes duration were performed by the participants at one-week intervals: (i) step-aerobics (SA), (ii) spinning (SP) and (iii) station work in the form of recreational educational games (EG). pOT and pDA levels were measured using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method in venous blood samples taken from participants before the exercise and during the last five minutes of the exercise. pOT and pDA levels measured before the exercise and in the last five minutes of the exercise were compared.

Results: The median age was 45 (41-45) and the body mass index (BMI) was 29 (27-34). There was a significant increase in mean pDA levels during exercise compared to pre-exercise in all three activities of moderate-intensity, SA, SP, and EG (P = 0.008, P = 0.001 and P = 0.030, respectively). The mean pOT level increased significantly during moderate-intensity SA and EG (P = 0.003 and P = 0.001, respectively). When the relationships between pDA and pOT levels and the variables of age, BMI, pulse rate, and maximum HR during all three exercises were evaluated, there was a significant positive correlation between pOT levels and maximum HR only during EG (r = 0.439, P = 0.028).

Conclusions: This study showed that SA and EG applied in women in the MT period increased both pDA and pOT levels, while SP only increased the pDA level significantly. Therefore, SA and EG exercises can contribute positively to the quality of life of women with health problems due to low pOT levels during the MT period.


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Yavuz A, Sari İsmail, Habipoğlu S, Ayan D. The effects of moderate-intensity step-aerobics, spinning, and educational game exercise programs on plasma dopamine and oxytocin levels in women in the menopausal transition period: Effects of exercise on hormone levels in menopausal transition period. J Surg Med [Internet]. 2022 Sep. 14 [cited 2023 Feb. 6];6(9):803-8. Available from: