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Let the air out of hot flashes

Most women have been conditioned to think "stomach in, chest out" from the time they were young girls aiming to attract a few admiring glances. But if you are dealing with the discomforts of menopause, you're probably more interested in cooling down your hot flashes than hearing up the opposite sex.

So now it's time to "let it all hang out," as they say. Pushing out your abdomen, instead of holding it in, will give you more room to breathe deeply. And that, researchers say, may he the key to blocking those "power surges."

"We've done three published studies on slow, deep breathing, and the flash frequency decreases by about 50 percent," says psychologist Robert Freedman of Detroit's Wayne State University School of Medicine. And he adds, "There are no bad side effects." This is good news if you can't or don't want to use hormone treatment to lessen menopause symptoms.

According to Dr. Freedman, the women in his studies learned how to slow their breathing to half their usual rate. "We train them in eight weekly sessions about one hour each and tell them to practice twice a day for 15 minutes," says Freedman. "Later, when they're in a situation where they're likely to get a flash, like a hot room, they do the deep, slow breathing."

If you're experiencing the red face and drenching sweat of hot flashes, this "belly breathing" technique may be just what you need. To practice it:

Lie on your back with the palms of your hands flat against 'our abdomen, middle fingers almost touching.

Breathe in slowly through your nose, keeping your chest still, but letting your stomach expand. The fingers will separate as you inhale. Continue breathing in until your abdomen reaches a comfortably full feeling.

Slowly begin to exhale, also through your nose. Allow the muscles of your abdomen to pull back in, pushing the air out. You'll notice that the fingers now move back closer together.

When you get comfortable with how belly breathing feels lying down, practice it while sitting and standing up. That way, you'll he able to use it no matter where you are. Before you know it, you'll be ready to blow those hot flashes away.

 
 

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