Menopause and Weight Gain
Menopause is a significant natural process in a woman’s life since it marks the end of her menstrual cycle. However, it can be quite rocky since it is associated with symptoms such as mood changes, night sweats, chills, hot flashes, altered cognitive function, and insomnia.
One of the most troubling symptoms of menopause is weight gain. This is particularly because it increases the risk of breathing problems, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
As much as weight gain during menopause can be worrying, it is normal and happens to about 20% of the women. This is due to factors such as:
- Decreased physical activity: People tend to exercise less as they age. However, they rarely adjust their dietary habits, leading to a calorie surplus and weight gain.
- Loss of muscle mass: During menopause, you lose muscle mass and gain fat. Yet, muscle mass burns more calories faster and better than fat. If you fail to exercise or restrict your calorie intake, weight gain can be inevitable.
- Drop in oestrogen levels: Oestrogen helps in regulating human metabolism. During menopause, oestrogen levels drop, causing a decline in metabolic rate and a shift in fat storage. You may start to notice weight gain on the mid-section and abdomen, also known as visceral fat.
Exercise may relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. It can also increase metabolism, cause a calorie deficit, increase bone mass and help manage weight, allowing you to stay confident and healthy. Here are some exercises that you can try out.
Aerobic exercises such as walking, hiking, cycling, swimming, and stair climbing improve cardiovascular functions and boost energy levels. It can also lower cholesterol, strengthen muscles and burn up calories, leading to weight loss.
Stress is one of the most common symptoms of menopause and the main suspect in an increase in cortisol levels, which in turn triggers an increase in body fat. Yoga relieves stress, hence preventing stress-induced cortisol and weight gain.
Dancing is one of the most exciting and the second most popular form of exercise after walking, since it allows you to burn fat while having fun. It also lowers cholesterol levels and improves fitness and cognitive functions.
Some forms of dance that you can try out include salsa, ballroom, and ballet. Zumba, in particular, has been reported to aid in weight loss as it combines aerobics with Latin rhythms, hence effectively burning significant calories.
Strength training exercises such as lifting weights are the solution to the loss of muscle mass during aging. They increase muscle fiber, hence managing possible sarcopenia and increasing balance and fitness. They also boost metabolism and improve your resilience to physical exercise. Classes like Zumba Toning and Zumba’s high intensity interval training program called, Strong, are excellent ways to combine aerobic activity with strength training.
For effective exercising, set clear, realistic goals and establish an exercise routine to help you stay on track. Start high-intensity workouts such as strength training and advanced aerobics at a low pace, increasing the intensity with time as you gain strength.
Remember to consult your physician before starting any exercises, especially if you haven’t been at it for some time. Also, create a calorie deficit, but eat a balanced diet with some carbohydrates and proteins to prevent low energy levels.