Why Strength Training Exercises are Vital during Menopause


Did you think strength training exercises were strictly the province of body-builders on a mission to create bulging pecs? Think again.

Using strength training - also called anaerobic or resistance exercises - routines is a vital element in your project, to shift some of that weight gain made during menopause.

This kind of exercise produces muscle. That in itself is good, because muscle makes you strong and helps prevent you turning into a fragile old lady later on. Your muscle-mass starts to decline naturally soon after you've hit your 30th birthday, so it's very important to try to replace as much of that missing muscle as you can. And strength training exercises are the way to do it.

Why you need to build your muscles

Mature woman strength training

Creating muscle is one of the great benefits of strength training.

Muscle is wonderful because it burns calories even if you're totally inactive. And when you exercise, it burns calories - and fat - more efficiently than a flabby body does.

That's why you really do need to lose fat and gain muscle once you're into perimenopause - although it's never too late to start.

Strength training exercises get your metabolism up and running as well, which boosts your calorie-burning ability. And if you're prone to depression, exercise can help lift your mood.

Aerobic exercise is fantastic for keeping your arteries clear, your blood pressure lowered and protecting you from heart disease, diabetes and all manner of other nasties. But it doesn't exercise the muscles, known as 'fast twitch', which spring into action when you lift a heavy weight, swing a golf club or tennis racket or pit yourself against gravity in mat exercises.

That's where strength training comes into its own. It's simple to do, and you can do some exercises straight away, while for others you'll need to invest in a few items of strength training equipment.

What are strength training exercises?

You can include any of these activities in your muscle-building exercise routines.
  • Exercises on weight machines, either in a gym or at home
  • Weight-lifting - also an excellent weight bearing exercise to strengthen your bones
  • Exercising while wearing ankle or wrist weights
  • Exercises such as press-ups, lunges, squats and crunches
  • Tennis or racquetball
  • Squash
  • Rowing, kayaking or canoeing
  • Golf
  • Karate
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Bowling
  • Gardening - raking, weeding, digging
  • Housework - vacuuming, polishing

How often should you do strength training exercises?

You can get good results with one hour of resistance exercise each week, combined with around four hours of aerobic exercise.

Make sure you don't exercise the same group of muscles two days in a row, because you need to give the muscles you've worked to repair themselves and grow stronger.

You can split your hour of exercise into smaller chunks, so you could do 10 or 15 minutes twice in one day (exercising different parts of the body each time), or do 10 minutes a day spread out over six days if you prefer.

Vary the type of exercise you do, and try to include some weight training which is invaluable for women as they go through menopause.

And finally, enjoy your strength training exercises, focus on their terrific benefits for your life into the long term, and revel in the sensation of becoming stronger and sleeker!

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Menopause facts

You are losing half a pound (250g) of muscle every year...which adds up to a lot of muscle over 10 years or more.

The good news is, you can prevent ALL of that loss - AND put back muscle that's already disappeared - with strength training exercises.


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