Women who are going through menopause know that it is one thing and one thing only: not fun. Hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain are just a few of the lovely symptoms of menopause. Above all else, exercise doesn’t seem to have the same effect as it did prior to entering menopause. What’s up with that? As disappointing as this may seem, research shows that regular exercise can make menopausal symptoms more bearable.
Menopausal women may not always feel in control of their health, but they can regain control and maintain healthy figures with the right exercises. More often than not, women are doing the same exercises and eating the same foods that kept them at a healthy weight before menopause. Sorry, ladies, but the extra weight around the midsection won’t budge with that same old routine. It is no longer tried and true, but rather it is just a way to stay active. Any movement is healthy movement, but not if you want to lose weight.
Once women reach age 50, estrogen levels begin to drop, metabolism slows, and fat can quickly accumulate around the midsection. The body doesn’t burn fat like it used to, so you must incorporate the following tips to keep the pounds off during menopause.
If you are a woman over 50 and you aren’t engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise, you’ve just made mistakes one, two, and three. Aerobic exercises include workouts that increase heart rate, for example, cycling, walking, dancing, boot camp classes, boxing classes, or swimming. Start small if you don’t know what to do. Take a 30 or 40-minute walk five or six days a week. You can also try interval training to help burn more calories.
Stress Relief & Sleep
Getting at least seven hours of sleep per night and reducing stress levels is necessary for menopausal women. When the body does not get enough sleep, less insulin is released in the body after eating a meal. This makes it hard for insulin to be effective and too much glucose (blood sugar) ends up in the bloodstream as a result, leading to weight gain around the belly. Insufficient sleep can also reduce the production of the hormone that tells you when you are full, causing you to crave high-calorie foods with zero nutritional value. Click here if you need tips for how to fall asleep, and click here for a great routine to de-stress.
While cardiovascular exercise is necessary, strength training or muscle-building exercises are equally as important. Bone loss is common in menopausal women, and strength training helps to slow bone loss and preserve muscles, which start to dissipate between ages 40-50. You don’t have to toss weights around the gym like a power-lifter; rather, walking with light dumbbells, bodyweight squats, or planks are great muscle-building exercises for beginners. If strength training seems daunting, consider getting a personal trainer to assist you on your weight loss journey.
Flexibility & Stretching
Flexibility is one of the four pillars of exercise because you have an increased risk of injury when your muscles are tight. Prior to every workout, you should stretch to preserve range of motion and keep joints flexible, two things that are lost as people age. Need some assistance stretching? Try out stretch therapy!
Last, but certainly not least, is the food you put in your body. You can do all the stretching and exercise in the world, but it will all be for naught if you aren’t eating clean. Since a high percentage of women aged 50 and up have slower metabolisms, it is wise to eliminate refined sugars, refined grains, trans fats, and simple carbohydrates. Take the time to focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and eat healthy fats like avocado and olive oil. And don’t forget the fiber!