Why Resistance Training Is Important During Perimenopause (And Post-Menopause)

Apr 1, 2024 | General Health

Menopause—once swept under the rug—is now being talked about more than ever before. Perimenopause, which is the transitional time before menopause, is marked by irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep issues, mood changes, weight gain, reduced bone density, decreased muscle mass, and more. Some women experience all of the above, while others experience some of the above.

Then, menopause marks the time in a woman’s life when she has no longer had a menstrual cycle for 12 months. This typically happens between 45 and 55 years of age. While there are various nutritional interventions to help ease symptoms, another habitual habit that can help is regular resistance training. 

Resistance training can not only help some symptoms but can also reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes—which may increase during menopause. So, let’s break this down further: Should you begin resistance training?

1. Resistance Training Preserves Muscle Mass and Strength

As women enter perimenopause, hormonal changes can lead to a decline in muscle mass and strength—a condition known as sarcopenia. This decline can lead to reduced physical function, increased risk of falls, and a lower quality of life. 

However, resistance training combats sarcopenia by stimulating muscle growth and improving strength. Regular participation in resistance exercises has been shown to do this specifically for hormonal-related sarcopenia changes that women may face in middle life. 

This can also lead to enhanced longevity and an ability to participate in the activities you know and love. Thus, the few hours a week in the gym are more than worthwhile.

2. It Enhances Bone Density

Estrogen plays a significant role in bone health, helping to maintain bone density. But… during perimenopause and post-menopause, a decrease in estrogen levels can lead to a reduction in bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. 

Yet, resistance training may help prevent this altogether. Resistance training applies stress to the bones, which, in response, stimulates bone-forming cells to increase bone density. This adaptive response helps counteract the natural bone loss associated with menopause, providing a protective effect against osteoporosis.

3. It Can Help With Weight Management

Weight gain is a common concern during perimenopause and post-menopause, partly due to hormonal changes and a natural decline in metabolic rate. But resistance training can be an effective tool for weight management during this time. 

By increasing muscle mass, resistance training can help boost metabolic rate, as muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, even at rest. This increased metabolic rate can aid in weight control and reduce the risk of obesity-related health conditions.

4. It Reduces The Risk of Chronic Disease

Resistance training has been shown to improve various metabolic markers, including insulin sensitivity and blood lipid profiles, which can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease. These benefits are particularly important during perimenopause and post-menopause, as the risk of these conditions increases with age and hormonal changes.

Overall, by preserving muscle mass and strength, enhancing bone density, aiding in weight management, improving mental health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, resistance training stands out as a vital component of a holistic health strategy for women navigating the complexities of perimenopause. When it comes down to it, resistance training is about building a foundation for a healthier, more vibrant life during perimenopause and beyond.

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