Menopause and exercise - what can I do? By MD Tordis Berger
Menopause means a lot of changes in the body of women.
At the time of menopause, the ovaries cease their cyclic activity, resulting in important hormonal changes. Estradiol (the major female sex hormone) and androgen (produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells) levels decline, and progesterone is no longer produced in the cyclic fashion. These changes lead to significant clinical effects. Some of these effects remain silent (skeletal, cardiovascular); while others, such as vasomotor effects, are associated with well-characterized symptoms. Vasomotor symptoms affect up to 75% of women entering menopause.
Women often exercise less when they enter menopause, which can lead to weight gain. To further complicate matters, the metabolism also decreases. One reason for this metabolism decline with age is the loss of muscle mass (about half-a-pound a year). Muscle burns more calories than fat, so whenever the muscle is not preserved with weight training exercise, the body simply does not burn as many calories. There is also a tendency to increase the intake of calories. As the metabolism drops, many women do not adjust their calories accordingly, which often leads to weight gain.
Regular exercise can prevent or lessen the impact of many of the above-mentioned changes, decrease morbidity and mortality after menopause.
Menopause and exercise - what can I do?
The exercise program for postmenopausal women should include, endurance exercise (aerobic), strength exercise, and balance exercise. Out of this aerobics, weight bearing, and resistance exercises are all effective in increasing the bone mineral density of the spine in postmenopausal women.
Since perimenopausal and postmenopausal women are relatively inactive overall, they may be more likely to comply with a program of moderate exercise than with a vigorous program that has an inherent increased risk of injury. Activities that are enjoyable and that are promoted within the context of a healthy lifestyle have a greater tendency to be maintained.
Physical activity is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle and essential for disease prevention. Nowadays, women still live decades beyond menopause, and during these years, the regular physical activity can improve her quality of life, general health, and sense of well-being.
Daley A, Stokes-Lampard H, MacArthur C. Exercise for vasomotor menopausal symptoms. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;5: CD006108
Bonaiuti D, Cranney A, Iovine R, Kemper HH, Negrini S, Robinson V, et al. Effects of exercise programme on quality of life in osteoporotic and osteopenic postmenopausal women: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;2: CD000333