American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Exercising After Menopause

Older woman walking dogsWeight-bearing exercises which cause weight to be placed on bones like the hips, legs and spine are essential in preventing osteoporosis. That's because the weight placed on the bone helps slow deterioration of the bone. But exercise has many other benefits for post-menopausal women, from improving cardiovascular health to helping prevent arthritis.

Benefits of Exercise

  • Helps prevent osteoporosis by keeping bone and cartilage tissue strong and healthy.

  • Reduces the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases by increasing heart and respiratory rates.

  • Keeps your joints moving and keeps the muscles around your joints strong. This helps in the prevention of arthritis.

  • Helps maintain regular bowel function, a common problem as people become older.

  • Improves overall health and fitness by controlling weight, making the heart stronger and retaining a sense of well-being and alertness.

Good Exercises for Post-Menopausal Women

  • Experts agree that walking is the best form of exercise for post-menopausal women. It can be done anywhere, anytime, and promotes social interaction.

  • Donald E. Waite, DO, suggests that people walk in shopping malls. Shopping malls are extremely safe, plus you don't need to worry about the weather, he says.

  • Light weight training will help build muscle mass and keep muscles tone.

  • Low-impact aerobics is great for increasing heart and respiratory rates, which helps keep vital organs healthy.

  • General activity is also urged. Older women should go outside and wash the car or work in the garden.

Exercise should be done daily for at least 30 minutes. If daily exercise isn't an option, try to be active at least three times a week. "Any activity is better than no activity," says Dr. Waite.

Exercise Tips

  • Consult your physician when starting a new exercise program. He or she can evaluate your medical history and help set up an exercise program.

  • Pick an exact date for when you would like to start exercising and stick to it.

  • Ask a friend or family member to join you in your exercise program.

  • Drink six to eight glasses of water a day. If exercising in a hot environment, drink 10 to 12 glasses a day.

  • Monitor your calorie intake.

  • In the event of uncommon pain or discomfort in any joint, muscle or tendon, stop and consult your doctor.

  • Don't exercise right before bed - it may cause trouble with sleeping.

Other Preventive Measures

Exercise does not work alone. Post-menopausal women need to do the following to ensure proper health:

  • Have a calcium intake of at least 1,500 milligrams a day to help build strong bones.

  • Limit daily fat and cholesterol intake to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

  • Maintain a normal body weight for their height.

  • Don't smoke. Smoking increases the chance for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

 

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