Hannah E. Cabre, Lacey M. Gould, Amanda N. Gordon, Sam R. Moore, Hayden K. Dewig, Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, FACSM, Eric D. Ryan, FACSM. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.

BACKGROUND: Women spend up to 40% of their lives in menopause. Menopausal changes coupled with age-related reductions in muscle strength can impact functionality and quality of life. Protein (PRO) intake and physical activity (PA) may also influence changes in muscle strength. The purpose of this study was to investigate the menopause status-related differences in maximal and rapid strength of the leg extensors in pre- (PRE) and post-menopausal (POST) women. A secondary aim was to understand the impact of dietary PRO and PA levels on strength. METHODS: Forty-six healthy females were stratified by menopause status: Pre-menopausal (n=23; Age=39.7±3.3 yrs; Wt=68.7±14.9 kg), and post-menopausal (n=23; Age=54.9±3.5 yrs; Wt=68.7±13.7 kg; amenorrheic for ≥12 consecutive months). Leg extensor strength of the dominant leg was evaluated by a calibrated portable isometric dynamometer. The greatest peak force (PF), and corresponding rapid forces, of 3 maximal efforts were utilized. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to assess overall PA level. The Diet History Questionnaire III was used to assess PRO intake for the previous 30 days. Relative PRO intake (r_PRO) was evaluated by dividing the PRO intake by body mass (PRO[g]/body mass[kg]). Independent sample t-tests were used to examine differences between PRE and POST for PA, r_PRO, PF, and rapid force at 50, 100, 150, and 200 milliseconds (ms). Bivariate correlations were used to examine the relationships between the strength variables vs. r_PRO intake and PA. RESULTS: There were no significant differences between PRE and POST for PA [Mean Difference (PRE-POST)±Standard Error: -1146.9±678.1 MET min/wk; p=0.098), r_PRO (0.2±0.1 g/kg; p=0.212), PF (36.2±30.5 N; p=0.242), 50 ms (0.3±3.1 N; p=0.935), 100 ms (2.5±10.0 N; p=0.805), 150 ms (8.3±19.1 N; p=0.666), or 200 ms (12.6±26.5 N; p= 0.636). No significant correlations were observed between strength measures and r_PRO intake (p=0.153-0.949) or PA (p=0.052-0.702). CONCLUSIONS: The lack of significant differences in maximal and rapid strength measures between menopause groups may be due to the similar PRO intake and PA levels, which may signify the efficacy of these practical approaches to maintaining strength as women age. This study was supported by the UNC Center for Women’s Health Research.

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