Exercise During Menopause Can Help Reduce Weight Gain and Aid in the Prevention of Health Risks
Are you having trouble with weight gain during menopause? Do you feel tired, sluggish, and unmotivated? Not only can menopause be a trying time during a woman’s life, the effects of menopause can increase health risks and decrease activity levels. The decrease in activity levels has been frequently noted to increase weight gain, decrease muscle mass, and decrease your aerobic capacity. All of these factors can contribute to an increase in the likelihood of health risks.
During menopause, the decrease in the hormone estrogen can lower your metabolic rate, which can cause an increase in appetite and a decrease in energy and physical activity, therefore increasing unnecessary fat mass. The National Institutes of Health’s “Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation” found that those who participated in activities like jogging, strength training, aerobic dancing, tennis, and swimming every day for 10 minutes or more had nearly 6 fewer inches around their waist than women who didn’t exercise. So, how is exercise beneficial during menopause?
– Reduce the likelihood of health risks caused by weight gain, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease
– Lower the risk of osteoporosis
– Keep joints and muscles strong
– Improve mental function and state of mind
– Build strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness
Whether you have weight to lose or not, the benefits of exercise will improve your quality of life! Many women are afraid to join a gym or just do not know what to do to improve their fitness levels. The good news is, you do not need a gym or fancy equipment to improve your fitness levels! Many exercises and fitness routines can be done in the comfort of your own home or office with minimal equipment, saving you TIME and MONEY! You can even use everyday household items to improve your strength and flexibility.
Strength training will help build lean body mass and increase metabolic activity, which in turn, will increase energy levels. It will also reduce the risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone density. Flexibility training is great to keep your muscles and joints loose and long. Incorporating cardiovascular training improves the ability of your heart to pump blood throughout the body with less effort! The following workout recommendations will show you how to implement a daily fitness regiment to get you moving on your way to a fit and healthy lifestyle!
Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Here you will find a brief description of simple exercises. Follow this link to be directed to the Kick Butt Fitness Routine, which includes recommended sets and repetitions for each exercise.
Warm-up: Walking, jogging, or even vacuuming and cleaning, is a great way to get the body moving, warmed up, and prepared for exercise.
Arm Circles: A great shoulder loosening/strengthening exercise. Start with your arms lifted parallel to the ground. Make small, slow circles forward while maintaining an erect posture and strong stance. Reverse.
Squats: Builds strength and balance in your lower body and core musculature. Stand with feet hip to shoulder distance apart, toes pointing straight ahead. Begin to lower your butt down to feel like you are sitting in an imaginary chair. Keep your chest and back engaged and strong, knees pointing straight and not collapsing inward. Maintaining this posture, raise back up to starting position.
Torso Twists: Gently loosens the back and oblique muscles and keeps the spine mobile. Stand with your feet under your hips. Slowly turn your shoulders to the right and then to the left. Do not exaggerate this stretch and do not push past your comfort level.
Lateral Crab Walking: A great exercise to work the glute (butt) muscles and major muscles of the upper leg. Stand with your feet under your hips. Take a slight bend in your knees (45 degree bend or quarter squat stance). While maintaining this knee bend and with your toes pointing straight, laterally step your right foot out 6-12 inches. Bring your left foot in towards your right, under your left hip. Repeat to the left.
Calf Raises: Strengthens the calf muscles and works on balance. Stand with your feet under your hips. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet while maintaining balance. Lower back down to starting position. To make this more challenging, raise both arms overhead while going up onto the balls of your feet.
Push-ups: Ideal exercise to build strength and stability in the upper body and core muscles. From a standing position, place your hands on a strong, steady surface (such as the kitchen sink) slightly wider than your shoulders. Keeping your core tight and engaged, lower your chest to the surface and strongly push yourself back to starting position. If you would like to attempt push-ups from the floor, a great way to begin is by starting on your knees then working to your toes. From the floor, place your hands on the ground slightly wider than shoulder width. Bring your shoulders forward until your arms are perpendicular to the ground. Lower your chest to the ground keeping your body in a smooth, straight line. Push yourself back up to starting position.
Planks: Lie on the floor face down. Place your elbows under your shoulders. Keeping your knees on the ground, lift your torso off the ground and balance on your forearms and knees. Keep your stomach tight and head in a neutral position. To make this even more challenging, raise your knees off the ground and balance on your forearms and toes!
Crunches: Lie on the floor face up. With your knees bent, place your feet on the floor. Place your hands gently behind your head, fingertips barely touching where the head and neck meet. Keeping your elbows out wide, lift your shoulders 2-6 inches off the ground, squeezing your abdominals. Return to starting position.
Feel like you can do more? Complete the list of exercises one more time! If during this exercise routine you feel light-headed or dizzy, stop the routine and rest. It is important to drink adequate amounts of water before, during, and after any and all exercise routines. Remember, increasing your amount of moderate activity and incorporating a healthy diet will greatly improve your fitness level and quality of life! Do not feel discouraged if you could not complete all of the exercise routine. Try to get better each and every day and you will soon see the rewards!
Best of luck with your continued success!
Robin Ishibashi Jones
Robin Ishibashi Jones has been a fitness trainer and strength and conditioning coach for over 10 years. A graduate of Whittier College and owner of Stonebridge HomeFit, Robin is a health and fitness enthusiast who makes training easily accessible to people of all levels.