exercise during menopause
One of the hallmark signs of perimenopause and menopause is a significant 10 to 15-pound weight gain that appears to come overnight. I want to show you how exercise can help against weight gain during menopause.
Many women are told that this is a common “middle-aged spread” and that they must learn to live with it.
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In fact, while it may be associated with perimenopause and menopause, there are also other significant environmental and hormonal changes that can be affected. And it can result in less weight gain or a complete reversal.
why do we gain weight?
Some of the reasons that women gain weight during perimenopause and menopause are:
- a lack of exercise
- eating more food
- stress-related eating
- hormonal imbalances
- thyroid dysfunction
- and other underlying medical conditions
It becomes more evident when the masking effect of estrogen is dropped.
Always check with your doctor
Before assuming that the sudden weight gain is normal, a woman should see her primary care physician or gynecologist. This is in order to rule out any other medical condition that may be causing this effect.
She should also check with her physician to be sure that she can include both cardiac and strength training exercises in her weekly regimen. The physician can help evaluate how much exercise will be appropriate. And the woman will be able to withstand, considering any other medical issues or conditions which she may be facing.
strength training is important too
During perimenopause and menopause, it is very important for women to address not only cardiac exercise but also strength training. It will increase lean body muscle mass that will burn more calories.
Exercise is the most beneficial activity a woman can participate in during her menopausal years. Many physicians believe that it also helps to repeal other symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, depression, insomnia. And an elevated cardiovascular risk that comes with the drop in estrogen levels.
Researchers also know that exercise will help to decrease bone loss that eventually leads to osteoporosis. In fact, exercise is a criteria which can predict how well a woman will sail through or suffer through menopause.
Diabetes is preventative through exercise
Research supports that postmenopausal women who exercised regularly are less likely to develop diabetes. One study found that women who regularly engaged in exercise were 31% less likely to develop diabetes and those who exercised more than four times per week had half the risk of diabetes.
Read more here: Texas Heart Institute: Women and Heart Disease
If you are exercising during perimenopause and menopause you should consider several issues, such as joint flexibility, strength training, cardiovascular fitness and relaxation.
Look for exercises that promote mobility and flexibility. Women should not discount short amounts of exercise they may get walking from the parking lot to a store or taking out the dog down the block.
Use the stairs whenever possible and try to increase your daily walking time, even if it is not generally thought of as exercise.
increase your metabolic rate in the morning
Many physicians believe that by exercising in the morning prior to eating you can increase your metabolic rate even further than by exercising later in the day. However, don’t let that stop you.
If you are unable to exercise until later in the afternoon do not forgo it because exercise won’t be as beneficial as if it were done first thing in the morning. Better if you do something rather than nothing at all.
By working on a range of motion and flexibility in all your joints you will help to relieve stiffness and soreness that is a common complaint. Spend some time warming your muscles up before you stretch.
And then spend five to 10 minutes every day stretching ankles, knees, hips, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, spine, and waist. It is important to continue to be flexible throughout the body. This will help to increase the rate at which calories are burned and maintain your ability to be functional.
Most women who have reached perimenopause or menopause will find that taking on a significantly active exercise program may be more than they are able to adjust to. Instead, it is better to include 30 minutes of brisk walking on a daily basis than it is to do nothing because you feel that jogging or playing beach volleyball is out of your league.
Interestingly, a study based on the National Institutes of Health review of women’s health found that although menopausal women tend to accumulate more fat, those who participate in activities light aerobic dancing or tennis every day for at least 10 minutes or more had six fewer inches around their waist than women who did not exercise.
Read more here: University of Maryland Medical Center: Menopause
keep active and lessen the hot flashes
The study also found that while exercise does nothing to help hot flashes and night sweats, those women who are at a healthy weight have less severe hot flashes and fewer night sweats. Women who exercised also reported a better overall quality of life which included less pain, more vitality and a more positive sense of mental and physical health.
Physicians and researchers are clear – exercise is important at any age but especially important for women as they reached perimenopause and menopause. The best thing is that it is never too late to get benefits from starting a program.
Choose an exercise program that fits your lifestyle, your personal beliefs, and your current physical abilities. Now get out there, and do it! I know you can. If I can do it, you can too! Good luck to you.