4 Reasons to Walk Through Menopause

Don't sit still—exercise battles many menopause issues

Three women walking
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Exercise such as brisk walking can be part of the solution for menopause issues you may be facing. Many women have difficulty in keeping off weight gain during menopause. Even more alarming, the hormonal changes of menopause bring an increased risk of heart disease. The menopause years often bring changes in mood and energy, including the highest rate of depression of any age group. The good news is that studies say moderately intense exercise can help you battle these problems.

6000 Steps a Day or More for Weight Control and Health in Menopause

A study of middle-aged women found that those who logged more than 6000 steps per day had a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and smaller waistlines. The women in the study were asked to wear a pedometer for seven days to record their steps. The overall average steps per day were just over 5000. In the "inactive" group the average number was a very low 3472, and those women were 61.8 percent of the total number. The smaller active group averaged 9056 steps per day (31.9 percent of the total women in the study). The results were adjusted for age, menopause status, smoking, and hormone therapy.

This is another piece of evidence that a goal of 10,000 steps per day can reduce health risks and obesity. A simple pedometer or fitness monitor that is fun and interactive can help motivate women to move more throughout the day.

Exercise Two to Three Times a Week for Heart Health at Midlife

A British study of over 1 million women followed for nine years found that exercising two to three times per week reduced the risk of heart disease, stroke, and blood clots by 20 percent compared to inactive women. Walking and other moderately-intense exercises such as cycling and gardening were associated with reduced risks.

Brisk Walks Boost Mood Better During Menopause

It is a common question as to what kind of exercise is better for boosting your mood and energy level. Do you need to run to feel a runner's high? A study reported at the North American Menopause Society meeting in Washington D.C., 2011, found that moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking was a better mood-enhancer for midlife women than vigorous exercise such as running.

The women who exercised at moderate intensity were allowed to choose the pace they wanted on a treadmill, but had their heart rates monitored to ensure they were walking fast enough to be at a moderate-intensity level. The same women also did a bout of vigorous-intensity exercise. They were given psychological tests for mood before, during, and after exercise.

For boosting mood, making them smile, and giving them a feeling of increased energy, moderate intensity beat vigorous intensity significantly. In fact, the women who most needed to get into a regular exercise habit because of inactivity or weight responded far less positively to vigorous exercise. As a result, the conclusion of the researchers was that moderate intensity exercise should be promoted to midlife women. They also concluded that women should be encouraged to enjoy physical activities that were personally meaningful and they found enjoyable.

Exercise Reduces Risk of Depression Through the Menopause Years

Middle-aged women have the highest rates of depression of any age group. A study followed 2891 women for 10 years as they progressed through menopause. They found that the more physically active women had less incidence of depression. More was better. The inactive women were the most likely to be depressed, while those who got some physical activity were less likely. The women who achieved the recommended physical activity guidelines had the lowest incidence of depression.

A Word From Verywell

Don't sit still for menopause. Make a commitment to be active throughout the day and reduce the time you spend sitting. Add time for dedicated workouts as well, with brisk walks that will get your heart and lungs working. You will reap the benefits with better energy, mood, and health.

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