Why Exercising after Menopause is Important — and How You Should Do It

Gainesville OB/GYN physicians at All About Women discuss the importance of maintaining a post-menopause exercise routine

Exercise is an important step in maintaining wellness at every stage of a woman's life, but this is especially true after menopause. The changes in a woman's body that become pronounced after menopause can be curbed by the positive effects that an exercise routine can have on the body.

Continue reading for more on the benefits of exercise, along with guidelines for planning an exercise routine.

4 Benefits of Exercising in Post-Menopause

There are some benefits of exercise that are specific to postmenopausal women. The Journal of Midlife Health notes some of these particular benefits of post-menopausal exercise:

  • Helps maintain body weight. The drop in estrogen after menopause can cause many women to see their weight rise since estrogen helps the body control hunger signals. Exercise can help level the playing field, fighting against the body's natural tendency to pack on pounds.
  • Helps maintain and build muscle mass and bone density. Women experience rapid rates of muscle loss after menopause if they don't consistently exercise. Strong muscles mean strong bones. Muscle-strengthening activity helps to build bone density, even in the elderly. And while gaining bone density is slow, gaining muscle mass takes relatively shorter time and reduces a woman's risk of fractures and falls. With osteoporosis being a major concern for postmenopausal women, weight-bearing activity that strengthens both the muscles and bones is vital.
  • Helps ward off cardiovascular problems: Declining estrogen also has effects on a woman's metabolic function. Exercise can help combat these metabolic risks by increasing the rates of HDL cholesterol (the good kind) while lowering LDL (the bad kind) and triglyceride levels.
  • Can help combat some of the side effects of menopause. Exercising is associated with improved mood and mental clarity, better balance, lower levels of stress, and better sleep patterns in women during and after menopause.

As you can see, exercising should be on top of your to-do list, if it isn't already. Don't feel discouraged if you haven't been exercising - it's never too late to start. Just make sure you follow both your general and OB/GYN doctor's exercise guidelines.

Exercise Guidelines

If you haven't been exercising, just remember to start out slow. You might be discouraged at first, but by sticking with a program for just six weeks, you will begin to see changes that encourage you to continue. Each woman should talk with her OB/GYN physician before initiating a new routine, particular if you have osteoporosis or a preexisting cardiac condition.

In general, though, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention make the following recommendations for older adults:

  • 2 and 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week - This equates to a half an hour walk five times a week. A basic check for the intensity of your work out is to do a talk test: for moderate intensity workouts, you should be able to talk comfortably, but you should be working hard enough that you aren't able to sing as you work out.

    One of the best moderate-intensity activities for women is walking. If you aren't able to tolerate the weather outside, indoor shopping areas like the Oaks Mall can be safe, free places to walk and often open early to allow for walkers. Step aerobics or other group fitness classes can also be a good way for women to both get a workout and have some social time.

  • Strength training exercises at least twice a week - In addition to cardio, women should also perform strength-training exercises that engage all the major muscle groups of the body, including the hips, shoulders, legs, back, chest and arms. These exercises help maintain your muscle mass and bone density.

    Again, many group aerobic classes integrate strength training into their routines. Or, there are some exercises that you may be able to do on your own. You should talk to your OB/GYN doctor about strength training exercises that would be suitable to your situation.

  • Balance, postural, and functional exercises. The NOF also recommends focusing on exercises such as Tai Chi or yoga that can help you maintain and even improve your balance as you age.

Talk to Your OB/GYN Doctor in Gainesville or Lake City

Exercise can help ward off many of the health risks that follow menopause. Make sure to talk with your OB/GYN doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. In particular, women with osteoporosis need to make sure to stick to low impact cardio workouts where falling is less likely to happen.

The compassionate OB/GYN doctors, nurses and support staff at All About Women in Gainesville and Lake City are here to help you in this new stage in your life.

If you have concerns about your health during or after menopause, don't hesitate to contact our office to schedule an appointment today.