Women experience menopause with lost ovarian function due to aging or surgical removal. Loss of estrogen in the postmenopausal state affects the body in both obvious and subtle ways. Obvious effects are hot flushes, thinning hair and skin wrinkling, but there are many more silent harmful effects.
Early menopause contributes to osteoporosis. Gradual weakening of bones occurs without the estrogen stimulus to calcium metabolism and bone strength. Further bone loss may evolve to fractures and disability.
We also know the effectiveness of high-density-lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” blood fat, is reduced without estrogen effect. This transporter molecule is responsible for removing cholesterol buildup in arteries. HDL particles without the effect of estrogen are less efficient and the risk for heart attacks increases in women following menopause. Postmenopausal women can offset some of this effect by eating healthy and staying active. Statin medication to modify abnormal blood lipids may also be needed.
A study reported at the North American Menopause Society stated women after menopausal tend to weigh more, have larger waist lines, and a higher percentage of body fat than younger more active premenopausal women. Sedentary behavior correlated with a larger waist size – no surprise. But their findings showed regular exercise brought benefit to both pre- and post-menopausal women. When women increased their daily exercise – energy, mobility, and bone density all improved, along with reduction in waist size. Increased activity and weight control can also reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Last year, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research reported a four year study examining women who walked the equivalent of thirty minutes per day had a lower risk of invasive breast cancer. The exact mechanism is unknown, but we do know exercise carries many positive benefits. Researchers stressed the benefit of lowered risk of invasive breast cancer was lost when exercise stopped — so daily exercise is key.
Walking daily can become a positive routine and is as important to overall health as brushing your teeth. Dogs love to walk. Our dogs provide encouragement to take a hike even in the rain. If you don’t have a dog, find a friend to join you. Exercise and social relationships correlate with happiness and longer life. Find a route that makes you smile and take a daily walk.
Some good advice from Dr. Seuss:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
One thought on “The Benefits of Daily Exercise after Menopause”
After reading your very interesting article on post-menopausal weight gain, I’ve decided to give myself a long-lasting and life-changing Christmas gift…I’m joining The Summit in January! I didn’t realize there is a link between regular exercise and the reduction of breast cancer. I lost my mom and sister to breast cancer so this info is of particular interest to me. Your words have found an eager ear, I’m committing to doing regular exercise for the rest of my life. Thanks for this vital information.