Exercising on a daily basis can be one of the most important and successful treatment options for women in menopause. After menopause, bone density slowly declines even with the addition of calcium and vitamin D. Exercise helps to build bone mass counteracting some or all of the decline associated with menopause and age.
Weight Bearing or Cardio?
There is a constant debate over what type of exercise is most effective for increasing bone mass. The only effective answer is all kinds. Cardiovascular exercise helps build endurance and strengthens the heart, which helps increase endurance during weight training and weight lifting. The effect is not direct, but one that should not be forgotten when planning a menopause exercise program.
Weight bearing exercises have a direct effect on bone mass. According to recent research, weight bearing exercises completed three times a week can have a significant positive effect on bone mass. The effect is strong enough to help prevent osteoporosis in aging women.
Disease Prevention and Menopause Exercise
The American Journal of Public Health has reported that exercising throughout menopause years significantly decreases the chance of diabetes. Researchers noted a 31% decline in diabetes risk in women who chose to exercise regularly.
How Much, How Long, and How Hard?
Gentle exercises, like walking and swimming, are great choices for women in menopause. If starting a new exercise program, after receiving approval from a primary care physician, women can exercise daily, every other day, or two to three days a week. The idea is to get up and moving. Exercise is linked to an increase in serotonin levels in the brain, so soon women often find they want to exercise more often to achieve that natural “high”.
As mentioned previously, weight bearing exercises are just as important as cardiovascular exercises. Weight bearing does not mean women have to hit the gym and squat, dead lift, and bench press their way to Ms. Fitness level. Weight bearing exercises include jogging, hiking, climbing stairs, and dancing. Experts agree that 30 minutes a day is best, but those minutes can be broken into three 10 minute sessions throughout the day if needed.
Hormone replacement therapy and vitamin supplements are fantastic at slowing bone loss after menopause, but age will work harder than these treatments. Regular menopause exercise can not only stop bone mass decline but rebuild lost bone mass over time. There is nothing better than 10 minutes a day to prevent osteoporosis.