Menopause marks the end of reproductive years, and fluctuating hormonal levels during this time can lead to a variety of unwanted symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats and sleep problems.
Another common complaint is added pounds.
If you are going through menopause and find it harder than ever to maintain a healthy weight, you are not alone.
“Menopause is diagnosed clinically and retrospectively as 12 months past the last menstrual cycle. Weight gain is one of the things that many, if not all, of my menopausal patients will share with me that they’re experiencing,” said Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Juliana Kling. “That can be really challenging because your metabolism starts to really decrease around midlife.”
Kling recommends regular exercise for heart health, and menopause is the time to lean into those healthy habits.
“Typically, those healthy lifestyle habits are going to provide the most success at helping during the menopause transition. In fact, we see pretty good data that weight loss or weight management can be helpful for managing menopause symptoms, so focusing on a healthy diet, on exercise, all of those can help. Exercise can even help with sexual functioning. Recognizing when you’re doing those things, you’re getting multiple benefits from it,” said Kling.
A couple of tips:
>> Move more. You don’t need to go to the gym if that’s not convenient. Try brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming or water aerobics. If you’re a beginner, start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workout. Strength training is recommended at least twice a week.
>> Eat less. When you reach your 50s or 60s, you might need about 200 fewer calories a day. Choose fresh vegetables and whole grains; limit sweets and alcohol. Olive oil, legumes, nuts, soy, fish and low-fat dairy products are good choices. Meat, such as red meat or chicken, should be eaten in limited quantities. Desserts with fresh fruit are a great choice.