3 Best Exercises for Menopause Weight Gain – Telehealth Functional Medicine Serving California

3 Best Exercises for Menopause Weight Gain – Telehealth Functional Medicine Serving California

What’s the best exercise for menopause weight gain? As women enter perimenopause and menopause, many will notice it suddenly feels easier than ever to gain weight, and harder than ever to lose it. Even if our diet and exercise regimens don’t change–– our bodies do.

What’s the best exercise for menopause weight gain? As women enter perimenopause and menopause, many will notice it suddenly feels easier than ever to gain weight, and harder than ever to lose it. Even if our diet and exercise regimens don’t change–– our bodies do.

The truth is, menopause marks a period of great hormonal transition, which can bring about a whole host of mental, emotional, and physical symptoms–– including weight gain.

But by replenishing our cells with a nourishing diet, engaging in mindfulness practices to find peace and calm, and moving our bodies with the right type of exercise, we can limit menopause weight gain while cultivating an inner sense of strength and calm as we move through this potentially turbulent time.

This article breaks down the best exercises for menopause weight gain, and a few key health considerations for perimenopause and menopause.

Exercise During Menopause: What You Should Know

Does menopause really cause women to gain weight easier than before? Unfortunately, often it does . One key change that happens during menopause is that estrogen and progesterone hormones fluctuate dramatically over the course of 7-14 years (on average). When our hormone levels drop, our bodies naturally store more fat. And, common but unpleasant symptoms like exhaustion, anxiety, mood swings, and fluctuating hormones can make it difficult to find the motivation to work harder at the gym–– much less to start a new exercise program.

So, although menopause is a completely natural part of life, how do we counteract weight gain, and find balance with these natural progressions of the body? A key way to take control of your weight and feel better is to recalibrate your exercise patterns to a more holistic regimen.

For many, our gut reactions to weight gain might include punishing ourselves in the gym, signing up for a Pilates or hot yoga membership, or committing to a CrossFit or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program. And while kicking things up a notch isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it shouldn’t be our only form of exercise. Not only can intense workouts (without having a proper “baseline” for mobility) injure our joints, tendons, and muscles, they also can release extra cortisol, putting our bodies into “fat-storage” mode.

So rather than only doubling-down on exercises that make you suffer–– consider using perimenopause or menopause as an opportunity to develop varied lifestyle habits that not only counteract weight gain— but actually position you for optimal health for years to come.

The 3 Best Exercises For Menopause Weight Gain

Most health professionals recommend a combination of three basic types of exercise for weight gain, and balanced physical health and maintenance in general, especially for women in perimenopause and menopause .

  1. Aerobic (running, hiking, walking)
  2. Restorative (yoga, Tai Chi/Qi Gong, Pilates, breathwork)
  3. Functional movement/strength training (lifting or carrying items, improving posture)

First, let’s talk a little bit about aerobic exercise.

1. Aerobic Exercise

When we hear the word “exercise,” most people picture some type of aerobic activity.

This usually involves “cardio,” which gets your blood pumping, makes you sweat, and usually makes you feel “out of breath.”

Most experts recommend engaging in some kind of exercise that puts you in this state for 10-20 minutes a day.

Here are a few examples of aerobic exercise:

  • Jogging
  • Power-walking
  • Hiking
  • Cross country skiing
  • CrossFit
  • Dancing (any type that makes you sweat!)
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Biking/cycling

2. Restorative Exercise

This is often the form of exercise that we don’t think of as something that would help us lose weight, but it’s just as important to the whole body as the higher-intensity kind.

Restorative exercises can help stimulate the parasympathetic system, improve circulation and flexibility, and reduce stress. Considering the fact that stress can make our bodies produce cortisol–– which is known to contribute to weight gain–– engaging in more restorative, relaxing exercises can reduce stress and allow our bodies to release unwanted waste.

Further, restorative exercise is particularly important for menopausal women. Exercises like yoga have been proven to help harmonize hormones and improve peace and calm, which are fundamental for improving overall health.

Common forms of restorative exercise include:

Be sure to not forget about these forms of exercise when it comes to your overall weight loss regimen. Everything in nature needs a balance of yin (restorative) and yang (exertion) energy, including your body–– and especially during menopause.

3. Functional Movement

This type of exercise involves engaging in routine, functional movements for increased strength and flexibility.

For many people, the image that appears in your head when you think of someone in their 70’s, 80’s or 90’s is one of limited mobility–– hunched posture, atrophied muscles, frail bones, etc.

But if you look at someone like Tao Porchon Lynch , for instance, who was doing yoga for the past 60 years, you’ll notice that gravity and old age didn’t seem to affect her in the same way.

Is it magic? No— she just kept engaging in daily practices to keep herself strong, lean, and flexible.

So when it comes to whether or not you carry your groceries, walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, park farther away in the parking lot, or sit up straight in your chair at work— all of these daily micro-movements influence the long term ability of your body.

Below are a few great functional movement exercises to infuse throughout your day:

  • Walk up and down the stairs
  • Do push-ups (assisted is fine!)
  • Walk as often as possible (park farther away or opt to walk instead of drive)
  • Work on your posture
  • Strengthen your core
  • Carry your own groceries

By carving out time in your schedule to do a little bit of each type of exercise on a daily or weekly basis, you can position your body to counteract weight gain, while building optimal strength for many years to come.

In Conclusion

If you’re feeling a little heavier, more sluggish than normal, and just “not like yourself” during menopause, it’s also important to “exercise” self-compassion. Beating yourself up for not having the energy and body of a 25-year-old will most likely interfere with your desire to pursue an exercise plan that will allow you to lose weight and feel more balanced.

By learning more about the biology of menopause (rather than resisting it), we can better understand the kinds of exercises that will help us feel fit, strong, and lean— rather than depleted and defeated.

By adopting a more holistic exercise routine during menopause that includes aerobic, restorative, and strength training elements, we can counteract menopause weight gain and position our bodies, minds, and spirits for optimal health for years to come.

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