Exercise & Menopause

The need for some things in life never goes away. We need love, support, encouragement, and caring people in our lives to help keep us balanced and connected from the time we are babies until we die. On the physical side of things, we need medical care when necessary and a good diet and exercise lifestyle to keep our bodies operating well throughout our lifetime as well.

The Mental & Physical Benefits Of Exercise

Exercise is particularly important for a woman, especially as she gets older. The benefits of exercise are extensive and we are all aware of how important exercise is to the development of strong bones and a strong heart. Exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, helps to keep weight in check and contributes to a sense of well being and mood improvement. People who are not physically active tend to suffer with a variety of diseases such as coronary disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Emotionally, they suffer from depression and even some cases of dementia can be traced back to lack of physical activity.

How Exercise Helps The Mental Outlook

Menopause is that time in a woman's life when her body stops producing certain hormones. When this happens, a woman becomes more subject to certain ailments, both physically and mentally. Research definitely shows that exercise can reduce a variety of menopausal symptoms such as anxiety, stress, and depression.

Deborah Nelson of Temple University, one of the research writers in the study Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, says, "With the aging population, physical activity represents one way for women to stay mentally healthy. Physical activity can help throughout the menopausal transition and afterwards."

In the stress category, the researchers found that high levels of physical activity were the most beneficial to postmenopausal women. Hot flashes did not go away with exercise, but mental health issues were definitely affected. "You don't have to run 20 miles a week to reap the benefits of exercise. If you stick to a moderate-paced walking schedule, it can keep your body mass index down and lower the risk of stress, anxiety, and depression," Nelson said.

Add Some Weights To The Equation For Added Strength

Including weight bearing exercises two or three times a week helps to increase bone mass and maintain muscle strength. That does not necessarily mean lifting weights, although that is a great way to create muscle and strengthen bones. Walking or running (without lifting weights), helps to increase bone mass and studies have shown that bone tissue lost from lack of use can be quickly rebuilt with weight bearing activity.

It is a fact that many menopausal, and especially post-menopausal, women suffer with the effects of bone loss and low bone density. Osteoporosis, while not only found in senior adults, is most prevalent in women-especially older women. This need not be the case. By including a walking program and some gentle weight bearing exercises on a regular basis, a woman can protect her body from disease and enhance her emotional health during the menopause transition.


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