Many women experience a “menopause middle” increase in belly fat in their 40s and 50s, and it can be super frustrating!
Weight gain and increased abdominal obesity are both risk factors for coronary artery disease – and both common with menopausal women. Recent studies regarding the benefits of regular physical activity in midlife women are “consistently suggestive of a positive impact on mood and weight control.”source
“During midlife years, women are at risk of increasing body weight and waist circumference. We evaluated changes in weight and waist circumference from enrollment to 2 years later and examined the influence of physical activity level on those changes among 232 women aged between 40-50. Weight increased significantly for the entire sample. Those who increased their physical activity from enrollment to 2 years later had the smallest increase in weight and had a slight decrease in waist circumference. To maintain ideal weight and waist circumference, midlife women should be encouraged to increase physical activity before and during the menopausal transition.” -source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3563258/
As our hormones change, cortisol levels in the body can increase as well, resulting in that dreaded ‘menopause middle’. Working to reduce stress (which also happens to be a side benefit of exercise) via mindfulness and meditation as well as improving sleep can have a major positive impact as well. source
The World Health Organization just updated their recommendations related to exercise.
“In adults, physical activity confers benefits for the following health outcomes: improved all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, incident hypertension, incident sitespecific cancers, incident type-2 diabetes, mental health (reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression); cognitive health, and sleep; measures of adiposity may also improve.” Source
For those 65+, regular physical activity is recommended. “As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do varied multicomponent physical activity that emphasizes functional balance and strength training at moderate or greater intensity, on 3 or more days a week to enhance functional capacity and to prevent falls.”
The guidelines stress that some activity is better than none – start small with something that you’re comfortable with and build on that…over time you can increase the frequency, intensity and duration of your workouts.
***This isn’t medical advice, always check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program and consider working with a trainer to make sure you’re using proper form***
I’m at the top of my game – I don’t need to worry about cognitive decline yet. And what does my leg strength have to do with my thinking?? Whether you’re a surgeon, attorney, CEO, or golf-game-perfecting retiree, we all want to perform at our best.
The time to reduce your risk of cognitive decline is before that decline starts. Age related factors like hormonal changes in both men and women – as well as the aging process itself -can contribute to ever-so-subtle cognitive changes (decreased processing speed /increased reaction time, decreased focused and sustained attention, mild memory lapses (misplaced items, “why did I walk into this room”). And we’re not just talking about getting dementia or Alzheimer’s. How about up- leveling performance at work and improving your golf or tennis game? Studies show “the age at which cognitive decline begins is relevant to the optimum time to implement interventions designed to prevent or reverse age-related declines. “ “What does appear clear is that several different types of results converge on the conclusion that age-related cognitive decline begins relatively early in adulthood, and certainly before age 60 in healthy educated adults.” Source
YIKES – WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT? A lot! The Goal Fit Method membership offers tons of research-backed content, and easily implemented lifestyle strategies aimed at maintaining physical and cognitive vitality as we grow older. Growing older is a gift, but I’m not settling for the decline in function I see so many suffer. And you don’t have to either. Here’s an example – LEG STRENGTH!
Wait, I thought we were talking about cognitive decline??
“Studies support that interventions targeted to improve leg power in the long term may help reach a universal goal of healthy cognitive ageing”- noting “a striking protective relationship was found between muscle fitness (leg power) and both 10-year cognitive change and subsequent total grey matter.” Source
“Groundbreaking research shows that neurological health depends as much on signals sent by the body’s large, leg muscles to the brain as it does on directives from the brain to the muscles. Using the legs, particularly in weight-bearing exercise, sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells, essential for the brain and nervous system. Cutting back on exercise makes it difficult for the body to produce new nerve cells — some of the very building blocks that allow us to handle stress and adapt to challenge in our lives.” Source
My favorite leg-strength exercises you can do at home include: squats, all the lunges, deadlifts, leg lifts, walking and hiking.
Join our community and grow stronger and more vibrant – make every day count to live a life that is truly good to the last drop!
Recent research has shown the benefits of strength training to include reduced risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Specific to older adults, resistance training can reduce sarcopenia (age related muscle loss) and fall risk as well as help to maintain bone mass.
This article cites research concluding that “resistance exercise promoted better anti-inflammatory balance and physical performance simultaneously with an increase in cognitive profile in older women with cognitive impairment”.
Aim for 3-4 strength training sessions per week and choose exercises and weights that provide a challenge. If you’re just starting out, check with your doctor & consider body weight exercises, light dumbbells or resistance exercises or even household items.
A session or two with a trainer is a great idea to ensure you’re choosing the right weights & that your form is on point.