Exercise After Menopause: Is Less More?
Low-to-moderate intensity physical activity was associated with a diminished risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer.
An oft-stated belief expressed that the older a woman gets, the harder she needs to exercise to stay in shape. But is this true?
The key is how we define more: The better approach appears to be less intense but more frequent. Two of the most extensive interventions on post-menopausal women, the Dose-Response to Exercise in Women Aged 45 to 75 Years (DREW) and the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health trials came to this conclusion:
Low-to-moderate intensity physical activity was associated with a diminished risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. Perhaps more striking was that increasing the workout intensity did not improve its benefits, but diminished its returns.
Slow and steady wins the race. Another benefit to the more measured approach is a potential dramatic decrease in both the number and severity of menopausal hot flashes.
- Aim for a minimum of thirty minutes for three to five days per week of the equivalent of a brisk walk. Many of my patients start by walking twenty minutes daily, walking as if they are in a hurry. Over time, increase your speed and duration.
- For those over seventy (or are physically challenged), try daily sessions of at least fifteen minutes.
- Skip the hype about intense workouts, and keep moving.
- Walk briskly for a minimum speed of at least 2.5 miles per hour, or ride a bike at 7 to 10 miles per hour. Some prefer gentle swimming, while others prefer a more active form of yoga, tai chi, or Pilates.
- Don’t forget the resistance training for building bones and making stronger muscles.
I’m Dr. Michael Hunter. Thank you for joining.