My story is short and universal: I enjoyed a lifetime as an active, lean, fit person who never had weight issues. Then menopause hit and I gained 30 lbs weight in a blink, despite having better eating habits than when young, a regular exercise program, and professional knowledge about how menopause affects women.
Don’t get me wrong. I am still one of the healthiest people I know. Still active; still happy and confident; still a qualified group fitness leader. With a menopot and a closet full of blouses that gap between the buttons! Who knows what I am talking about?
In Australia, researchers looked at the relationship between exercise, body mass index (BMI) and menopausal symptoms to see if the first two had an effect on the latter (Mirzaiinjmabadi, Anderson & Barnes 2006). Their study showed that n exercise was effective in relieving somatic and psychological symptoms, including depression and anxiety. The findings should be welcome news to women wishing to relieve symptoms of menopause.
[Read: How To Avoid Weight Gain At Menopause?]
Weight Loss For Menopause
Research has shown that both cardio activity and resistance training affect body composition and abdominal fat distribution, so you will want to move more than you have been due to your slowed metabolism, and do some weight lifting. Notice I did not say body building.
Before I turned 50, I took only iron for anemia. Now that I’m on this side of the age scale, I find myself trying other supplements too. As I’m not interested in prescription medications for a natural event (excepting the epidural I had during childbirth), I look to plant-based remedies and exercise.
Research also supports exercise as a way to relieve stress, stabilize mood swings that come with hormonal changes, and improve overall quality of life. However, no studies yet conclude that exercise can resolve sleep interruption or hot flashes. Hey, if I’m going to get hot and sweaty anyway, why not do it when a cute workout outfit, a good playlist, and calorie burning are involved?
Minimum Cardio Requirements
I continue to recommend exercise as one of the best ways to get through menopause — well, through life in general! Specifically, get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes minimum of high intensity aerobic activity each week. Certainly more minutes spread throughout the week is even better. But these minimum targets are doable and effective. We’re talking just 22 minutes per day. Jog in place during TV commercials if need be. I can knock out 15 minutes during the halftime of a UEFA Champions soccer game! Taking my princess privileged poochie for a daily dog walk tacks on another 45 minutes at least.
[Read: What Are The Benefits Of Exercise After Menopause?]
Minimum Strength Training Requirements
Perhaps more critical for weight loss purposes is to strength train all major muscles at least twice a week. Strength training becomes MORE, not less important we age. Added bonus: resistance training and weight bearing activities (such as jogging, treadmill walking, but NOT swimming, for example) slow bone loss after menopause, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.Some additional good news about menopause and exercise — we also reduce our risk of breast cancer.
Hmm, I probably could increase the frequency and intensity of my strength training program as I have slacked off a bit the last few years. Just a thought. No wait – I mean just an ACTION! For more thoughts and a story you might relate to, check out Managing Weight as You Age, by Jody Goldenfield.
Mirzaiinjmabadi, K., Anderson, D. and Barnes, M. (2006), The relationship between exercise, Body Mass Index and menopausal symptoms in midlife Australian women. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 12: 28–34. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-172X.2006.00547.x