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It’s no secret that our bodies change as we age. We lose muscle mass, our metabolism slows down, and our bones become more brittle. And while there is no fountain of youth, exercise can help us age gracefully by reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases, improving our mental health, and helping us maintain a healthy weight. So if you’re looking for ways to reverse menopause weight gain and get in better shape during menopause, we have the tips you need. But first, let’s look at why fitness is essential for women before, during, and after menopause.
Why Is Fitness Important Leading Up to, During, and After Menopause?
As we age, our bodies undergo hormonal changes that can lead to weight gain. In addition, the loss of muscle mass and bone density can make it more challenging to stay active and fit. However, exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight, improving bone health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
Leading Up to Menopause
For women, menopause typically happens between the ages of 45 and 55. During this time, the ovaries steadily produce less estrogen, which can result in symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and mood swings. While there is no way to prevent menopause, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight can help lessen the severity of symptoms.
Exercise is also important during menopause. In addition to helping with weight control and managing hot flashes, research has shown that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of developing heart disease — the leading cause of death in women — by 20 percent. Regular exercise paired with a healthy, nutrient-rich diet can also help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Once you reach menopause, it’s important to continue exercising regularly. Not only will it help you maintain your current level of fitness, but it will also continue to reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. And if you have already been diagnosed with a chronic disease, exercise can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Get in Shape During Menopause with These Tips
1. Start Slow
If you’re just starting to exercise during menopause, starting slow is essential. You may be tempted to push yourself hard to see results quickly, but this can actually do more harm than good. Instead, try starting with simple walks around your neighborhood or light strength training exercises. Once you get used to exercising, you can gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
2. Find an Activity You Enjoy
It’s also important to find an activity that you enjoy so that you’re more likely to stick with it. For example, if you hate running, that’s not the activity for you. Don’t make yourself do it just because your cousin Linda dropped a few pounds training for her 5k. There are loads of other choices out there, so find something that you actually enjoy doing. This could be swimming, biking, hiking, or even a fitness class at your local gym.
3. Set Realistic Goals
When starting out, it’s wise to set realistic goals for yourself. Don’t try to lose 20 pounds in the first month or run a marathon if you’ve never even run a 5K before. Start with small goals you can realistically achieve and then build from there. If you’re not sure how to set fitness goals, we recommend SMART goals — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
4. Make Time for Exercise
One of the biggest challenges of getting in shape during menopause is finding the time to exercise. With work, family, and other commitments, it can be tough to fit in a workout regularly. One way to ensure you’re able to exercise is to schedule it into your week like any other appointment. Put it in your calendar and make sure you stick to it as much as possible. Make your exercise a priority and a non-negotiable.
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5. Be Patient
Being patient when trying to get in shape during menopause is also essential. You’ll unlikely see results overnight, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t lose 10 pounds in the first week or two. Just keep at it and, eventually, you will start seeing results from your hard work.
6. Talk to Your Doctor
Before starting any new exercise routine, it’s always wise to talk to your doctor first. This is especially true if you have health conditions or worries that could impact your ability to exercise safely. Your doctor can advise you on what activities are safe for you and how often you should be doing them. They can also conduct hormone imbalance testing, which can help identify other factors impacting your health. Based on these results, they may recommend specific supplements or treatments to help with menopause symptoms, exercise goals, and general health.
7. Get Support
If you’re finding it challenging to stick to your exercise routine, it might be helpful to get some support from friends or family members. You could start a walking group with some neighbors or join a gym with a friend. There are also a lot of great online support groups for women going through menopause. These can be a great way to connect with other women facing similar challenges and get motivation and advice from others who are going through the same thing. Lastly, you can work with a personal trainer who specializes in helping women during menopause. They can develop a customized exercise plan tailored to your specific goals and needs.
Exercise is a great way to stay in shape during menopause, but it’s not the only thing you can do. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep are also important for maintaining your health during this time. If you’re struggling to make lifestyle changes on your own, we recommend talking to your doctor or working with a specialist. They can help you develop a plan that’s right for you and provide support along the way.