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How Exercise Helps Overcome the Symptoms of Menopause

Posted Nov 24 2013 12:42pm

How Exercise Helps Overcome the Symptoms of Menopause

The symptoms that women experience when going through menopause vary from woman to woman and also vary in intensity.

The most common symptoms relating to menopause are however;

- Weight Gain after menopause/ Loss of muscle mass
- Loss of bone density
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increase in abdominal fat
- Hot flashes
- Irritability
- Insomnia
- Poor concentration
- Depression

Popular belief is that all of these symptoms are linked to hormonal changes, however from the above list only hot flashes has been proven to be a result of a change in hormones. Exercise can help counter all these symptoms, including hot flashes. The effect exercise has on your body can have a positive influence over any of the above negative symptoms and feelings.

Weight Gain after menopause

This is the most common symptom associated with menopause. The weight gain experienced is not caused by changing hormones. It is due to the fact that as women approach the age of 40, the rate at which muscle mass is lost, increases. This is coupled with a decrease in metabolism and results in weight gain which can be hard to shift. Losing a pound of muscle means women will burn up to 50 calories less daily. Many women will turn to calorie controlled diets and strict portion control. This however simply slows metabolism down further and makes it more difficult to lose the weight.

This slow down in metabolism and increase muscle mass can be reversed by exercise. A combination of aerobic exercise and progressive weight training can significantly increase both metabolism and muscle mass of women in their 40′s and 50′s, even women in their 90′s!

Loss of Bone Density

Loss of bone density in women begins in their early 30′s. Women can lose up to 1% of total bone mass yearly until menopause. Upon reaching menopause, loss of bone density can rapidly increase and in some women they will lose up to 2% of total bone density annually. By the time a woman is 60 it is not unheard of for her to have lost 30% of her total bone density.

The main contributing factor to this is lack of Estrogen. Whilst exercise does not wholly replace Estrogen deficiency research has shown that including light aerobic exercise and weight training can dramatically reduce bone mass loss in women. The exercise need not be intensive to have results. Brisk walking combined with light weight lifting will provide very effective results.

Increased Risk of Heart Disease

The risk of developing coronary diseases significantly increases in postmenopausal women. This risk can be reduced by commencing on a regular exercise programme. In general, studies have shown that a strong relationship exists between exercise and lowered risk of heart disease.

By exercising you help to increase your heart rate and get blood flowing around your body more easily. It may sound grim but women who are aerobically fit are a lot less likely to die from heart diseases.

Increase in Abdominal Fat

Abdominal fat comes in two basic varieties – Subcutaneous and Visceral. First off is the wobbly stuff you can pinch. The second is much more insidious; it lurks in the abdominal cavity and has been linked with various serious health problems.

Studies have shown that middle-age of itself will cause a gain in subcutaneous fat, whereas menopause as such was associated with an increase in total body fat and visceral fat.

The way to beat the fat belly problem is to undertake regular moderate exercise. If you can, try doing some aerobic exercise like walking, jogging or dancing for at least 30 minutes a day. Twice a week try to do some resistance training, (exercising with weights). Studies have shown that people who do not exercise will put on more visceral fat while those exercising at the levels suggested will not put on any. Over time it was shown that exercisers were also more successful in keeping visceral fat off.

You need to note however that while doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, they won’t help you get rid off visceral fat.

Hot Flashes

The hot flash is probably the most discussed symptom of menopause. At this time of your life your body is producing less estrogen and progesterone. As a result, the hypothalamus, your body’s thermostat, gets mixed signals: is it hot or cold? Because of this your blood vessels end up expanding and contracting randomly.

Exercise helps to decrease hot flashes by lowering the amount of certain hormones and by raising endorphine levels. Even 20 minutes three times a week can significantly reduce hot flashes.

Irritability/ Insomnia/ Poor Concentration/ Depression

These symptoms are all linked to one another and experiencing one or more of these symptoms is more than likely to result in experience of one or more of the others. During menopause your stress levels can soar. Heightened stress levels can lead to poor sleeping patterns, which in turn results in poor concentration and irritability.

Studies have shown that exercising helps to reduce stress – whether it is caused by hormone changes or not. Exercising is not only enjoyable but it helps your body to release tensions but keeps your mind occupied.

It is clear that exercise is one of the best remedies for dealing with the symptoms associated with menopause. Aerobic exercise combined with progressive weight lifting will increase muscle mass and bone density along with increasing metabolic rate. Weight loss during or after menopausal is not any harder than losing weight at any other age; it is simply about combining the correct techniques and shifting those stubborn fat cells for good!

It is important to consult your medical practitioner before commencing on any exercise programme.

Having first hand experience of going through the menopause and having to deal with the many issues it raises Diane Etta Moncur, has written a detailed 37 page complimentary report on menopausal weight issues and how to tackle them. To download this complimentary report instantly visit

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