By Anne Kramer
Continued exercise through menopause is very important. The typical age of a women going through menopause is between 48 and 55. Menopause comes with a number of physical and psychological changes. These include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbance, weight gain and emotional highs and lows. In the time following menopause, the risk for various problems like heart disease and osteoporosis increases. Studies suggest that regular exercise can help reduce some of these symptoms.
The weight gain normally experienced during menopause is not always associated with hormone changes, though this can impact your metabolic rate (the rate at which the body converts stored energy into working energy). The lack of estrogen may also cause your body to use blood sugar and starches less effectively which will make it harder to lose weight and increase fat storage.
Reasons for Weight Gain During Menopause Include:
- Less exercise. About 60% of adults are not active enough and this number increases with age.
- As we age, we lose muscle mass, which lowers your resting metabolism, making it easier to gain weight.
- The rate in which we can use energy during exercise decreases. We may need to increase the time and intensity of our exercise to achieve weight loss.
- Depression. Some women find themselves using food more to cope with emotions during this time.
When a woman gains weight during menopause, the pattern of weight gain looks different. A woman who is going through, or has gone through, menopause may find that this weight is deposited around the abdominal area and waist. This switch to abdominal fat and visceral fat (around the organs) storage has been associated with heart disease and higher risk of diabetes.
Being regularly active is the key. A woman’s body will benefit from three major types of activity:
- Aerobic activity (cycling, walking, swimming, …)
- Strength training (dumbbells, weight machines, resistance bands)
- Stretching (yoga, pilates…)
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Exercise can work to protect your bones and improve muscle tone. Regular exercise is something every woman can benefit from. There are so many different activities to choose from: Yoga, walking, stretching, aerobics, lifting weights, swimming, gardening….the list goes on.
Find something you enjoy and invite friends, neighbors or family members to join you. Get moving!
Anne Kramer is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and SilverSneakers Teacher at Being-Fit.