One of the most vexing changes of getting older, and the menopause, is a shift in body fat storage to the front and sides of the abdomen. This phenomenon, also known as menopause belly, is a result of shifting hormones, an activation of a “menopausal gene“, as well as changes in exercise and diet.
A decline in estrogen causes fat cells in the abdominal area to store more fat. It may even reduce your body’s ability to burn fat. When the “menopause gene” is switched on, it contributes to belly fat, unfortunately resulting in women gaining between five to ten pounds during the first decade after menopause.
An increase in intra-abdominal fat is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, myocardial infarction, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Therefore, this shift in body fat storage is more than just a cosmetic issue.
The decline in hormones during and after menopause is just one part of the menopause belly. For many women, their level of activity slows with age. Many women don’t reduce their caloric intake to match the lowered activity. The lower activity level, coupled with a decline in muscle mass from less exercise and estrogen, lowers the metabolic rate, leading to an increase in stored fat.
Although you don’t have much control over the inevitable hormonal induced body fat distribution, here are some simple physical and lifestyle ways to future proof the impact of the menopause, help prevent weight gain and increase muscle mass which is vital after hitting menopause.
Strength training and impact activities (like walking or running) can help to offset the decline of bone mineral density and prevent osteoporosis. Around age 30, you begin losing roughly 1% of your muscle mass each year. Because muscle burns fat, this actually leads to fat-based weight gain. You can reverse this process and fight osteoporosis by weight training. You’ll need to work your major muscle groups (including legs, arms, core, and butt) with some basic moves.
As you get stronger, you must increase the amount of resistance you use to keep building strength. Your muscles should fatigue between 8 to 12 or 12 to 15 repetitions. If you don’t want to use weights, try medicine balls, cables, or bands for resistance.
Rebounding gets your lymphatic system up and running and is a great way to start each day, plus increase bone density. It is the only exercise that strengthens, cleanses, and tones every cell in the body. The lymph system works according to movement. Without movement, the toxins, poisons and heavy metals will lay stagnant in our body.
Rebounding is easy on the joints and is especially helpful for people who are not fans of cardio workouts. The rebounder helps build up all your core muscles by actively engaging your mind-body connection through use of your ocular nerves and inner ear canal. Because your body is moving in directions it cannot always predict, it helps to put your physiology in a kinesthetic state of learning and reacting, increasing stability, balance, agility and coordination.
A busy bee's dream - Cleaning the house and going to the gym can both be chores we'd rather do without, but what if you could blend the housework and a workout? Simple tasks such as cleaning windows can work your triceps, biceps and shoulder muscles, burning as many calories as a 22 minute cycle session!
Vacuuming? Do lunges. Dusting? Strap on weights. Cooking? Try leg lifts and squats. Folding Laundry? Squat! Paying a bill? Turn those bills into abdominal twists. Taking out the rubbish? Bicep curl all the way to the bins. Doing the dishes? Get onto your tippy toes and try out some calf curls.
Light Cardio & Dance
Walking, bicycling, and dancing are all good examples of cardio exercise. Cardio exercises burn a good amount of calories, helping to prevent weight gain — which many women experience during menopause. It also helps ward off heart disease, a condition that's more common among women of menopausal age
Embracing dance as a form of exercise can burn calories, improves coordination and postural strength. Research has also proven that dance classes can help with another major side effect of the menopause: low mood. Zumba classes can actually boost your happiness levels with the effects lasting for two months.
Eat Mindfully & Supplement
Including lots of fruit and protein in your diet is associated with a later onset of natural menopause; so is consuming more calories in general. In fact, researchers have found that having a higher body mass index (BMI) predicts a later menopause. But complicating the matter, the investigators also found that vegetarian women experienced menopause about a year earlier than meat-eaters.
A study tracked more than 35,000 British women for four years, investigators found that menopause tended to start earlier among those whose diets were heavy in refined carbs, and In contrast a higher consumption of oily fish was found to delay the timing of natural menopause by approximately three years, and fresh legumes -- such as peas and green beans -- was linked to a later menopause by around a year. On the other hand, a higher consumption of refined carbohydrates -- such as pasta and rice -- hastened the onset of menopause by 1.5 years.
If you can't get what you require from food directly, you can always supplement to increase your vitamin and mineral intake that way. Focusing on vitamin D and calcium may be superior in lowering the risk of early menopause. Higher daily intake of both vitamin B6 and zinc was similarly linked to delayed menopause. Also adding more collagen to your diet could help with a range of menopause symptoms, from aching joints to dull skin.
Mindful Fitness & Balance
Dealing with menopause can be stressful, and activities like yoga and meditation can reduce the tension through their low-key approaches and deep-breathing practices. Yoga can help improve sexual function in women, particularly those over 45 years old, which suggests it might be good to offset sexual changes during menopause.
There’s also some evidence that insomnia, a common menopause symptom, can be relieved through yoga and meditation.
Exercises that enhance your body’s ability to stay upright and steady are particularly important as you prepare and enter menopause. As you get older, your balance isn’t as good, therefore to improve your balance, start out with a simple exercise like standing on one leg for a few seconds. Balance yourself against a wall or chair if you’re unsteady. Tai chi, a relaxing form of exercise that uses slow, fluid movements, can also help with balance and muscle coordination.
Set realistic, Achievable Goals
Rather than vowing to exercise more, why not commit to something more realistic, like a daily walk after dinner. Frequently update your goals as you achieve greater levels of fitness. Teaming up with someone such as a partner, friend or neighbour can also really help motivation.
Cut Out Smoking & Alcohol
Alcohol likely doesn't induce early menopause on its own but drinking too much can perhaps trigger it, and it's not just the booze you need to be mindful of, it's smoking too. Smoking is one of the few things that is known to induce early menopause, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. The chemicals in cigarettes, such as nicotine, cyanide, and carbon monoxide can speed up the loss rate of eggs. Unfortunately, once eggs die off, they cannot regenerate or be replaced. Because of this women who smoke can experience menopause one to four years earlier than non-smokers.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
For the mums and mums to be, if you breastfeed your babies for seven to twelve months during their infancy, The chances of starting menopause before age 45 are lower. A recent study analysed the pregnancy and breastfeeding history of over 100,000 women between the ages of 25 and 42.
When adjusted for duration of breastfeeding, researchers found that one full-term pregnancy lowered the risk of early menopause by 8 percent, two pregnancies by 16 percent, and a third pregnancy by 22 percent. Breastfeeding for a combined total of 25 months lowered the risk by 27 percent (when compared to women who breastfed less than a month).