Exercise During Menopause

Exercise during Menopause.

The following article is taken from the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal.

Because of my own proximity to menopause, and some of the symptoms of change that are already happening to me, I thought some of my readers might be interested as well in the effects that exercise can have.
Night sweats, hot flashes, high blood pressure, and
osteoporosis—does this sound like a list of things
you would like to avoid? For women facing
menopause, exercise may be part of the answer.

Chronic Disease Risk

A woman’s risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes
is higher once she enters menopause. This is linked with
changes in blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels.
Research shows that regular exercise during menopause helps control these
risk factors and lowers a woman’s overall chance for
developing disease. A University of Tennessee study
demonstrated that when postmenopausal women began
walking 2 miles each day, they lowered their blood pressure
level, and some even brought their blood pressure level within
normal limits. In the Women’s Health Study, women who
walked 2 or more hours per week cut their risk for coronary
heart disease by more than half. Exercise during menopause is a critical lifestyle
factor in helping women avoid chronic disease.

All people lose bone as they get older, and this is particularly
apparent in postmenopausal women. This sometimes
crippling disease impacts more than eight million American
women. It is estimated that more than half of all women
older than 50 years will have an osteoporosis-related fracture
during their lifetime. Fortunately, a number of effective
pharmaceutical agents have been developed to treat
this disease, but from a prevention standpoint, exercise
can be effective in helping maintain strong bones. Both
weight-bearing exercises during menopause such as walking and resistance
training (i.e., weight lifting) can help minimize bone loss.
When bones are stronger, fracture risk is lower. The Nurses’
Health Study indicated that the risk for hip fracture in
postmenopausal women was reduced by 6% for every hour
spent walking per week.

Weight Management

A loss of muscle mass and an increase in abdominal
fat are common at the time of menopause. Regular
exercise during menopause is effective at fighting both of these changes.
Exercise during menopause stimulates muscle and helps alleviate age-related
muscle loss. In addition, the calories expended during
exercise help maintain a healthy body weight and
minimize the accumulation of abdominal fat, a
particularly harmful alteration in body composition.
In a group of postmenopausal women studied at the
University of Tennessee, active women had 13 lbs less
fat on their trunks, and their waists were 7 inches smaller
than sedentary women.

Menopausal Symptoms

Hot flashes, mood disturbances, and problems with sleep are
common complaints during the menopausal transition. The
impact of exercise during menopause on these symptoms has been investigated,
but the results are not always clear. Some, but not all,
women experience relief from these symptoms when they
begin regular exercise. For those women who do experience
relief, the improvement in quality of life is significant.
Getting regular exercise is a lifestyle choice with the
potential to greatly improve a woman’s health. Although
aging brings increased risk for disease, exercise can help.
ACSM recommends that adults get at least 30 minutes
of aerobic exercise each day. Fitness professionals, such as personal trainers, can
help develop specific exercise plans to meet individual needs.

Author Dixie L. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, is the director of the
Center for Physical Activity and Health and professor in the
Department of Exercise, Sport, and Leisure Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Here are a few more articles on my site related to:
exercise during menopause
Womens weight training and menopause
Menopause and weight loss

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