What are the benefits of strength training during Menopause?
For the duration of perimenopause, your estrogen levels start to fluctuate and eventually decline to lead into menopause, when your periods will stop. It’s during menopause that women become at an increased risk for some health issues including heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity and diabetes.
Menopause is one of those topics that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, so most women have no idea of what lays ahead for them. There are things you can proactively do to reduce the possibility of these illnesses occurring and to ease some of the more challenging symptoms.
As you age, your ability to build muscle declines, and with the added “gift” of menopause that ability is even more difficult. Estrogen plays a significant role in building muscle, so when this hormone starts to decline it becomes more important than ever for you to focus on maintaining and building lean muscle mass.
Lean muscle mass does not equal a big bulging bod. Muscle is a compact substance, taking up less space than fat. We usually see women dropping dress sizes even if the number on the scale doesn’t move. This, in turn, has been shown to be a positive way to decrease your risk of obesity and diabetes.
Building lean muscle has been shown to help keep vasomotor symptoms of menopause in check. Up to 70% of women reported reduced hot flashes and night sweats in a recent study, compared to the cardio bunnies that had a lower amount of lean muscle.
Many of the well-known ageing diseases like osteoporosis and CVD (cardiovascular disease) are linked with menopause, as estrogen plays a positive role in both heart health and our skeletal muscle. Once we see a decline in estrogen, it’s important that you actively do everything you can to combat such risks.
So what is the best exercise for menopause?
How do you actively build lean muscle? The answer is very simple:
The only way to actively create a stimulus and build muscle is strength training. It is possible to start with bodyweight exercises but ultimately this will not add enough stimuli to your muscles to create a change that results in building lean muscle. I recommend combining weight lifting with bodyweight exercises.
All the other activities you do in life should continue like walking or swimming. But ultimately these activities will not build muscle to support your body through menopause and beyond. The best way to continue doing these activities is to alternate them with a strength session.
You need to lift weights.
You have to start working your body with a resistance that feels challenging, that actually overloads the body and makes changes to its structure.
Ideally, you should do strength training 2-3 times per week. The sessions do not need to belong, on average 30 minutes in a circuit style format.
This allows you to lift weights quickly and efficiently and get you out of breath, which is going to help with your metabolism and cardiovascular conditioning.