Let’s face it ladies, menopause is a fact of life. Whether you enter this phase prepared or kicking and screaming, it is something you have to deal with. Most of us have heard stories of the internal furnace suddenly turning on or off, the the incredible mood swings, and we have all heard the dreaded belly fat stories. Many doctors will be quick to prescribe HRT or other prescriptions. Many women will try natural supplements. And all of that may or may not work. Whatever gives you relief in the moment with the least amount of side effects is a positive thing.
But have you thought about adding exercise, including strength training, to your menopause arsenal? Could it possibly work? The short answer is absolutely!
Loss of Bone Density
Strength training helps maintain and even build bone density. One of the major side effects of aging and menopause is the loss of bone density. Score one for strength training! I have witnessed a post-menopausal woman with osteoporosis increase her bone density as seen on her scans after a year of adding weight training to her regimen where drugs alone were not as effective.
Hormones – they are complex little beings. During menopause, we produce less hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Then, to add insult to injury, we create more testosterone, which helps redistribute weight from the hips to the belly.
Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, so with less of it being produced, the body, resourceful machine that it is, looks to other sources for estrogen production. Fat cells produce a little bit of estrogen so the body will work harder to create fat cells in order to create estrogen. Smart, but not good for weight maintenance , as fat cells do not burn as many calories as muscle does and leaves us with more unwanted body weight. Strength training builds muscles, which is effective at fat burning. So a regimen of strength training before, during, and after your hormones have begun to deplete is a great way to combat the belly fat!
Mood swings are another piece of the menopause puzzle. Some women are greatly affected and feel out of control. Regular exercise can help! Serotonin and endorphins are released in the body during exercise. Both help to elevate our mood, ease stress effects, and reduce depression. If you are currently exercising regularly, 3+ times a week, you may just need to increase the intensity a bit. If you are not exercising regularly, commit to you and your health with a workout schedule starting at a low intensity.
Many women experience sleep issues while going through the menopause process. Regular exercise and dietary changes can make a world of difference. In multiple studies, those who exercise even as little as 10 minutes a day, every day, consistently report their sleep has improved. The body heals when sleeping, so if we get a good night’s rest the majority of the time we have more pep, think clearer, eat better, and just feel better.
The list of possible symptoms of menopause is long. But the bottom line is you can help how you feel with a simple exercise regimen that includes strength training. If you can make some dietary changes as well, even better!