Menopause -- which normally occurs around age 51 -- often leads to weight gain. Weight gained during menopause often settles around the abdomen, rather than on the hips and thighs. Weight gain at any time, including menopause, can lead to health problems, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, but weight gained during menopause may increase the risk of developing breast cancer, while losing weight during menopause may reduce your risk of developing the disease. You can control weight gain by making lifestyle adjustments.
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Loss of muscle mass is common with age and can lead to weight gain. Muscle cells require more calories to maintain than fat cells, so a greater percentage of muscle increases the number of calories you can consume without gaining weight. Weight lifting is important to reduce the amount of muscle mass you lose as you age. For every pound of muscle you build, you burn an additional 50 calories each day, according to Columbia University. Lift weights every other day and alternate your routine so that each body part gets at least 24 hours rest between workouts. Weight lifting, as well as weight-bearing cardio activities, such as walking, also increase bone density, an important benefit for women.
If you're finding yourself spending more time on the couch, increasing your activity levels can help with weight gain. Weight gained after 50 may seem different because it settles on different areas of the body, but it responds to cardiovascular exercise just as weight gained in earlier years. Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity most days of the week. In some cases, you might need to increase your exercise beyond this level to keep weight gain under control, but talk to your doctor first. Participating in aerobic activity has the added benefit of reducing many of the conditions associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, memory problems, concentration difficulties and improves mood, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Aging decreases the number of calories burned at rest, which decreases the number of calories that you need to consume to maintain your weight. This means that even if nothing changes in your diet, you can expect to gain weight as you age. At the same time, you need more protein to maintain muscle mass,dietitian Lenora Dannelke explains. Look for easy solutions for cutting calories, such as cutting back on alcohol consumption, substituting fruit for sweets and reducing portion sizes rather than eliminating all your favorite snacks and treats.