Exercise and Menopause

Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle through exercise can help reduce some of the negative effects associated with menopause.  The decrease in hormone production during this time, especially estrogen, can lead to a host of changes in the body.  Women often experience weight gain, loss of muscle mass and strength as well as a decrease in bone mineral density which may lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis.  Depression and fatigue are also commonly reported and experienced.  Weight gain can lead to obesity if unchecked.  Obesity has been shown to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Osteoporosis can lead to fractures in the wrist, thigh bones and/or spine.  These potential problems can be addressed by avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.  Adding 30 minutes per day of exercise on most days, including weight-bearing exercises and resistive exercises have been shown to increase bone density, decrease the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, control excessive weight gain

and diminish depression.  Weight bearing exercise could simply be brisk walking for weight-bearing to the lower extremities and pelvis.  Weight bearing can also be done in the form of exercise on hands and knees if possible, like gentle yoga.  This would help with weight-bearing to the upper extremities and upper spine.  Exercising with resistance bands or weights strengthens both muscle and bone.   A 2016 study by Kai, Nagamatsu, Kitabatake and Sensui in the journal Menopause showed that gentle 10-minute nightly stretching, for example, before bed-time could also help diminish symptoms such as hot flashes and feelings of depression.  So a combination of aerobic-type exercise along with resistance training as well as stretching all prove to be beneficial as women transition through their menopausal and post-menopausal phases of life.  It is always best to be guided by a professional, like a physical therapist whose training and expertise is in Women’s Health for best out-comes and avoidance of injury.