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Abdominal Exercises to Combat Weight Gain in Menopause

author image Mary Ylisela
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.
Abdominal Exercises to Combat Weight Gain in Menopause
Weight gain during menopause can be discouraging. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Abdominal weight gain can be one of the most frustrating things a woman deals with while going through menopause. Hormonal changes can contribute to weight gain, says the University of Maryland Medical Center, and these are often compounded by getting less exercise and loss of muscle mass, resulting in a slower metabolism. Abdominal exercises will help you tone your stomach muscles, but you'll have to perform aerobic exercise to lose weight. See your physician before starting a new weight-loss program.

The Cause

A decline in the hormone estrogen has been linked to the redistribution of fat to the abdomen, reveals the University of New Mexico. But other factors, including lifestyle factors, contribute toward middle-age spread. Metabolism naturally slows down as you age. Likewise, exercising less, eating more and not actively building muscle mass contributes toward excess weight gain during menopause. Since excess weight gain can contribute to a higher breast cancer risk, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, it's important to take steps toward weight loss.

Cardio Help

Doing abdominal exercises will not help you lose stomach fat, because spot reduction doesn't work. But you can combat weight gain with regular cardio exercise. A minimum of 30 minutes daily cardio exercise is recommended, but 60 to 90 minutes per day is even better, finds the University of Maryland Medical Center. Break this up into smaller sessions if 60 to 90 minutes is too difficult for your body or schedule. Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, bike riding, swimming and jogging are a few of the options that can help you burn calories and lose weight. To lose one pound in a week you must burn 3,500 calories, which can be achieved by biking, swimming or jogging for approximately one hour per day.

Bail Some Hay

Strength training is vital to avoiding menopausal weight gain. After the age of 20, you lose approximately one-half pound of muscle per year. This loss causes your metabolism to slow, making it difficult to lose weight. Two to three weekly weight-training sessions that last 20 minutes each can help you build muscle mass, boost your metabolism and tone your abdominal muscles. Do a total-body strength-training workout for a balanced workout, including ab exercises that will help you reveal a toned midsection as you lose fat. Medicine ball trunk rotations, supine bicycle exercises and the hay bailer will work your abdominal muscles. To start the hay bailer, assume a squat position and hold a weight in both hands by your right hip. Rise as you lift the weight up and across your body as if you're going to throw it over your left shoulder. Return to the starting position. Perform 12 repetitions on each side.

Eat Some Fish

What you do and don't eat plays a significant role in your ability to lose weight and get a trimmer abdomen during menopause. Eat fish at least twice per week; the omega-3 fatty acids in fish reduce your risk of heart disease. At the same time, limit saturated fats and cholesterol by eating lean protein sources while avoiding full-fat dairy. Consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grain products. Aid your weight-loss efforts by eating 250 to 500 fewer calories per day for a potential loss of one-half to one pound per week.

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