Physical Activity and Exercise for Menopause: Stay Active and Manage Symptoms

Last updated 11.30.2023 | by Sabrina Johnson | 7 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Did you know that findings have deduced women to be more physically inactive than males? Yes, that’s what some sources say. Around 60% of women in the United States don’t engage in proper physical activity – at least the amount that they should do. Interestingly, 25% of them don’t indulge in any physical activity at all. The findings were quite surprising to me and alarming as well. 

Irrespective of the gender, everyone needs physical activity. For women, the necessity is even more, mostly to manage the menopausal symptoms that could aggravate if they aren’t physically active.

I have always maintained a proper exercise regime, and after my 40s, I began to adhere to my schedule even more religiously. I always devoted at least five hours a week to exercise, which varied from walking to jogging, swimming to dancing, etc. 

If you haven’t taken physical activity seriously all your life, it’s time to consider it, especially if you have hit the 40s. How is exercise connected with menopause? How will you gain from it? How much should you exercise during menopause? Your mind may have been occupied with such thoughts. Right? This article will help you find answers to your questions. I have included topics like why you need exercise during menopause and what exercise will help you then. Read on to know more.

Why is Exercise Important During Menopause?

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. So, when you are physically fit, you will feel rejuvenated from within. Menopause doesn’t just lead to umpteen physical changes. It affects your mental health as well. Stress and anxiety become your regular thing. Let’s take a look at the ways exercise may help in menopause.

  • Menopause leads women to gain abdominal fat and lose muscle mass, due to which weight gain becomes almost inevitable in some individuals. However, regular exercise can help in preventing weight gain.
  • By maintaining a healthy weight, exercise reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, such as endometrial, colon, and breast cancer.
  • Physical activities during menopause strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
  • Exercise lowers the risk of age-related cognitive decline and also eases anxiety and depression.
  • The weight you gain during menopause can have adverse effects on your health, such as increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Exercise helps in keeping these risks at bay.

Best Physical Activities to Manage Symptoms of Menopause

Best Physical Activities to Manage Symptoms of Menopause

Moving your body sufficiently on a daily basis is extremely vital for a menopausal woman. You can also divide your exercise routines into 15 minutes twice a day.

I was reading a journal the other day where experts advise women to aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Some exercises on this list include brisk walking, dancing, hiking, bike riding, lawn mowing, etc.

Let us get into a detailed analysis of the exercises that will help during menopause. Here we go:

Strength Training

Strength training is imperative to deal with the symptoms of menopause since the risk of osteoporosis increases during this phase. You can build back your metabolism and improve your muscle and bone strength through strength training exercises. That’s not all.

Strength training will benefit you in several ways when you are transitioning into menopause. More than you can think of. A study showed that women in regular strength training had lesser risks of cardiac problems. When you indulge in strength training routinely, it boosts the production of endorphins (the good hormones). This, in turn, helps to elevate your mood, which could be a little low in menopause.

The equipment to try out for strength training could include:

  • Resistance tubing
  • Dumbbells
  • Weight machines

Yoga and Meditation

Since different women prefer different types of physical activities, you can also opt for meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises to indulge in relaxation techniques that will ease your body.

Yoga and meditation improve flexibility, help you sleep better, center your mind, and calm your nerves. They could also help with some of the menopausal symptoms, such as fatigue, irritability, and hot flashes.

The other day, I was talking to a yoga trainer who enlightened me with some yoga poses during menopause. I found the cow pose the easiest, wherein you go on your knees and hands. She mentioned other poses like the lunge pose, fan posture, sphinx pose, etc. All of them help to soothe and relax your anxious mind significantly.

Cardio

Cardio helps in keeping the heart rate up, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease in women going through menopause.

There are multiple options for cardio, such as:

  •  Biking
  • Swimming
  • Jogging
  • Dancing

I enrolled in a Zumba class in my mid-40s, which yielded good results. I not only managed to bring down my weight, but I even felt mentally stimulated. After every zumba session, it was a relaxing feeling indeed.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

The hormonal changes that happen during perimenopause and menopause reduce the blood flow to a woman’s pelvic floor. Therefore, pelvic floor exercises improve your control over your bowels and bladder and boost your coordination, strength, blood flow, and flexibility.

FAQs

Is gaining weight common during menopause?

Gaining weight, particularly belly fat in menopause, is a common phenomenon. You could blame it on the hormonal imbalances, alongside the several lifestyle changes one goes through in mid-age. Most of the weight you gain in menopause accumulates in the waist rather than your hips and thighs.

Do all women gain weight during menopause?

No, not all women gain weight during menopause. A lot depends on one’s lifestyle as well. Exercising well and eating healthy will make you less prone to weight gain.

Does exercise help in managing one’s weight during menopause?

Yes, exercise helps tremendously in managing your weight during menopause. However, besides following a proper exercise regime, you must also watch for your calorie intake. Follow a healthy diet, and avoid binge eating.

Why is fitness important during menopause?

Fitness is important during menopause because it strengthens the bones, boosts mood, and reduces the risk of diseases.

How does aquatic aerobics help in menopause?

Aquatic aerobics helps immensely for women in the menopausal phase. When in water, the warmth betters the blood flow to your sore muscles and joints. This helps significantly to relieve you of the aches and pains. 
Water aerobics is even helpful for women with hot flashes and sleep issues. Suppose insomnia and hot flashes are your regular things. In that case, you can talk with your fitness trainer and discuss how beneficial water aerobics would be to you.

Conclusion

Being overweight or obese could be associated with some of the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes. Although it hasn’t been proven that exercise reduces menopausal symptoms, it definitely aids in improving your quality of life, relieving stress, and maintaining a healthy weight.

The best way to keep your weight in check is to develop realistic and achievable goals and make sure to keep updating these goals so that your body gets fitter. Start small, such as going for a walk after your dinner.

Some people find it helpful to have another person accompany them on their fitness journey. No matter what mode of exercise you choose to manage your menopausal symptoms, just be consistent with it, and don’t forget to warm up before any physical activity.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.