Moving Through Menopause

menopause-workoutJust when you think you can relax a little and sink into that favored reading chair more often comes the oft-repeated (sometimes too often) news that the only way to stave off the middle-age bulge is: moving—exercise, that is. And, eating less.

The Mayo Clinic says in a 2012 study published in Menopause that women gain an average of ten pounds during menopause. Their study demonstrated the weight can be lost through a combination of diet and regular exercise. Ok, well I thought my yoga and walking regimen was enough, but the evidence suggests otherwise. I really need to add strength and resistance training, which typically means the dreaded weight lifting.

I used to lift weights off and on in my 20s and then again in my 40s, but I always found it incredibly boring. But, now that I’m past 50 and am completely menopausal, I thought perhaps I should find out how I should be lifting weights. Maybe it’s changed. Indeed, it has. Maybe there’s hope for me yet?

Why Bother?

The health benefits of exercise, particularly weight training, are compelling. For women
over 50, regular exercise should consist of 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. By age 65, your commitment will significantly reduce your chances of living with one of eight major chronic conditions:

• Heart disease
• Stroke
• Diabetes
• Kidney disease
• Alzheimer’s
• Colon cancer, and
• Lung cancer

So, getting and staying fit will increase both your longevity and your quality of life. And, besides warding off disease, exercise often reduces menopausal symptoms.

Don’t Do This

The good news is we get to eliminate several forms of weight training. At, women’s health expert Linda Melone advises people over 50 against the following:

• Leg extension machines to avoid stressing your knee caps
• Back extensions on a Roman chair are no-no’s for the lower back and lumbar area
• Pull downs or ups behind the head stresses the front shoulder
• Plyometrics or jumping training are only allowed once a week on a low platform
• Overhead presses stress the rotator cuff and shoulders, and, my favorite,
• Heavy weights. Set weights to a level that you can move for 10 repetitions; the last two should challenge you.

But, We Should Do:

• Warm up adequately to prepare your joints and muscles to exercise and cool down to relax those areas. This helps reduce soreness and injury.
• Stretch for at least five minutes after your warm up.
• Change your routine. Alternate cardiovascular work with strength and resistance training.

Here’s how this should look:

A gradual progression of 8-10 exercises that work the entire body.
Do 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each exercise.
Remember: the weight should be enough that the last 2 movements are hard.

• Challenge yourself. Pick up the pace and/or length of your cardiovascular routine and lift enough weight (see above.)
• Add power. Do 2 sets of a squat, curl, press exercise 6-8 times once or twice a week. Focus on your form over the amount of weight. See the resources listed below for more suggestions.

More Possibilities:

For walkers: See this article to increase the intensity of your strolls.

Weight training recommendations:

If you have any questions about a workout routine, check with your doctor.

Good luck and remember the old adage: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

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About This Blogger

Kathy Stump

Kathy Stump writes from her home in Parkville, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. For the last two decades, she’s been raising two children, freelance writing, proofreading, and tutoring young readers. Local and regional magazines feature her articles on travel, historic sites, nutrition, and parenting. She’s also reviewed books for Kirkus Reviews and written academic essays for Anaxos, Inc. Reading, walking, and yoga are her favorite pastimes. In her previous life (before kids), Ms. Stump was a museum curator. She studied art history and historic preservation at Mary Washington University and holds a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies and American Civilization from George Washington University.

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