Staying fit during menopause can be a challenge, but staying fit and toning up after menopause is an uphill battle. As women age, body metabolism slows, meaning you need fewer calories each day to maintain a healthy body weight. Increasing activity and watching what you eat can help slow or stop menopausal weight gain and increase overall health. But menopause also brings on changes in muscle tissue and bone density which can mean the female body looks less toned. Adding weight and flexibility training after menopause can help strengthen bones and increase overall body tone.
Add strength training to your workout routine. Exercising with light weights, weight-training machines, or Pilates two or three times each week can increase muscle mass, strengthen bones and increase metabolism. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should train each major muscle group two to three times each week.
Cut back on calories. Because a postmenopausal body is not as metabolically active, it is important to decrease calorie intake and increase calorie quality to get and stay toned. NBC News Smart Fitness reported that a study done by the Women's Healthy Lifestyle Project found that women who work at diet and exercise after menopause are able to keep more pounds off than women who do not. Keeping your weight under control helps improve overall body tone.
Increase cardiovascular activity. Cardio activity increases metabolism, helping you burn more fat and calories and keep your body toned and fit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Moderate-intensity activities include walking fast, riding a bicycle or doing water aerobics. Vigorous-intensity activities include jogging or running, riding a bicycle fast or on hills and swimming laps.
Use flexibility training to improve range of motion and increase postmenopausal body tone. Exercise programs that include yoga and other types of stretching exercises improve balance and increase your ability to perform the other parts of your workout more productively. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends adults do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week.
Eat smaller meals more often. Eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than focusing on three large meals helps keep your metabolism steady and your hunger at bay. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, eating six small meals throughout the day will provide you with consistent energy and keep you from eating too much when you are over-hungry. Focus meals on lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains to keep your body toned after menopause.
Consult your doctor before beginning any new diet or exercise program.
- Smart Fitness, NBCNews.com: Losing the Matronly Look of Menopause
- The American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?
- Harvard Health Publications: Excerpt from Mind Over Menopause, Chapter 5: Moving Through Menopause, Exercise to Improve Menopausal Symptoms
- Dr. Oz's 6-Meal Plan