5 reasons why exercise is important for menopausal women | Recommended exercise and diet

Editor of this article

Kouichi Terauchi

Koichi Terauchi

Doctor of Medicine, Tokyo Medical and Dental University


1994 Graduated from Tokyo Medical and Dental University School of Medicine. Trained at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital, National Health Insurance Asahi Central Hospital, and Otsuka Hospital.
2003 Doctor of Medicine
2005 Research Fellow, Emory University, USA
2012 Associate Professor, Department of Women's Health Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Tokyo Medical and Dental University
2020 Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tokyo Medical and Dental University

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Physical Characteristics of Menopausal Women

hand images

During menopause, in addition to the rapid decrease in estrogen, various symptoms are likely to appear due to aging and long-term lifestyle habits.

In addition, women generally have more fat and less muscle than men, and post-menopausal women are more likely to accumulate body fat. In fact, according to the National Health and Nutrition Survey, 17.4% of women in their 40s have a BMI of 25 or higher, and 22.2% of women in their 50s1 ) .

Not only that, but estrogen depletion may increase the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and poor mental health.

A study that reported the effects of exercise on menopausal women found that exercise, such as running, in premenopausal women maintains and improves bone density. 2)

In addition, it has been reported that resistance exercise (exercise that gives resistance to muscles such as squats and dumbbell training) is effective for improving muscle strength, blood lipids, and bone density in women who have a lifestyle that is centered on a sitting position. 2,3).

Furthermore, it has been reported that combining knowledge about menopause with exercise guidance is effective for numbness, paresthesia, and irritability 2).

I will explain in detail below.

Exercise relieves menopausal symptoms

There is data that menopausal symptoms are relieved by walking4 ) .

If you are concerned about menopausal symptoms, it may be a good idea to review your activity level.

Exercise is important for weight control

During menopause, estrogen, which has the effect of metabolizing lipids, decreases, making it easier for visceral fat to accumulate.

We are worried about appearance problems such as being overweight, but accumulation of visceral fat and obesity increase the risk of diabetes, dyslipidemia, and menopausal hot flashes, and have a major impact on the body.

Exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of obesity and related diseases.

Exercise can help maintain bone health and reduce fracture risk

Bone is constantly being remodeled by osteoblasts, which form new bone, and osteoclasts, which destroy old bone. This metabolic balance is important for maintaining bone health.

However, when menopause occurs and the amount of estrogen secreted decreases, the function of osteoclasts, which break down bone, becomes active, and the balance of bone remodeling is lost. This increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures5 ) .

Exercise is said to be effective in maintaining bone health in menopausal women3 ) . In fact, there is a report that the bone density around the lumbar vertebrae and femoral bones increased due to aerobic exercise and walking 5) .

Exercise also increases muscle strength, which may reduce the risk of injuries and fractures caused by falls.

Exercise prevents heart disease risk

Cholesterol levels are known to rise during menopause due to a decrease in estrogen, which is involved in cholesterol metabolism.

Continuing high cholesterol also increases the risk of heart disease. Exercise improves cholesterol metabolism and is therefore considered favorable for the prevention of heart disease6 ) .

Exercise is also effective for mental care

In menopause, in addition to physical discomfort, it is said that psychological disorders are more likely to be felt due to fluctuations in hormone balance. Research data shows that exercise improves mental health in menopausal women. It has been reported that the quality of life has improved 7) .

If you have not only physical disorders but also psychological disorders, exercise may be effective in relieving and preventing anxiety.

Why Menopausal Women Can't Lose Weight With Exercise

woman picking belly

Menopause is related to the reason why menopausal women do not lose weight even if they exercise.

As female hormones decrease due to menopause, visceral fat increases and muscle mass and strength decrease9). Less muscle means less energy burned during exercise, making it harder to lose weight. To prevent muscle loss, maintain muscle mass with light weight training on a daily basis.

In general, even if you exercise enough, you won't lose weight if you continue to eat a lot of fat. Especially during menopause, lipid metabolism slows down, so it is better to eat light Japanese food than greasy food.

Standards for ideal physical activity


According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's 2013 Physical Activity Standards for Health Promotion, the standard for physical activity (daily activities/exercise) for people aged 18 to 64 is to "exercise for 60 minutes each week to the extent that you can breathe and sweat." increase.

Examples include walking and light strength training with your own body weight1 ) .

Recommended exercise for menopausal women | Diet

walking woman

The recommended exercise for menopause is walking4). By exercising the whole body, the autonomic nervous system that has been disturbed during menopause is adjusted, so it is useful not only for alleviating menopausal symptoms but also for preventing deterioration. Aerobic exercise such as walking is also suitable as an exercise to drop fat, so it is also effective for dieting.

Strength training such as squats and sit-ups is also recommended. In one study, resistance exercise (exercise that puts a load on the muscles) is said to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome compared to no exercise8).

It's better to keep exercising at your own pace every day rather than exercising once in a while. If you don't know what exercise to start with during menopause, or if you want to relieve your lack of daily exercise, let's start with walking, which is easy to start.

Precautions when exercising

tick check

For those with menopausal symptoms, isn't exercise an element of anxiety?

In particular you should be aware of the following:

  • Exercise that strains the lower back and knees
  • strenuous exercise

During menopause, many people experience pain in their hips and knees. Exercise with a large load will lead to pain in the lower back and knees, so be careful. Also, excessive exercise may cause palpitations and stress fractures, so be careful.

Stretching before going to bed is also important.

woman stretching

It is known that stretching just before going to bed improves menopausal symptoms such as “hot face, easy fatigue”.

In one study of 40 menopausal women, 20 were asked to do yoga-infused stretching for 10 minutes just before going to bed every day, and the other 20 were asked to do the same as usual for 3 weeks. . As a result, it was found that the average menopausal symptoms were reduced to normal levels in the stretched team compared to the non-stretched team10 ) .

It is recommended that you do an easy-to-start stretch, such as yoga, for about 10 minutes just before going to bed. Try stretching within a reasonable range, such as the hero pose, which is one of the yoga poses, and the child's pose.

Focus on diet during menopause

Photos of dishes such as fish dishes and fried foods

Not only exercise therapy but also diet is important for improving menopausal symptoms. If your eating habits are biased, it will cause the autonomic nerves to be disturbed.

Menopausal women are recommended to incorporate soy products such as tofu and natto into their diet.

Soy contains ingredients similar to estrogen, the female hormone that decreases during menopause. Therefore, consuming soy can be expected to alleviate menopausal symptoms.

Get plenty of calcium from fish and dairy products. Postmenopausal , prone to bone fractures Towards, it strengthens the bones of women.

In addition, since LDL cholesterol levels generally rise after menopause, it is also important to get into the habit of not eating too much fat, such as fatty meat and fresh cream, from around the time of menopause. Elevated LDL cholesterol can lead to arteriosclerosis.

Also read the following articles
Recommended foods for women concerned about menopause

Incorporating Chinese herbal medicine may lead to alleviation of various symptoms

Taking herbal medicine is also effective for painful menopausal symptoms. Kampo medicine comprehensively reviews various things such as the person's constitution and lifestyle, and gradually improves symptoms from the inside of the body. There are various herbal medicines, but the herbal medicines that are effective for menopausal symptoms are as follows.

  • Kamishoyosan: Depression, irritation, hot flashes, hot flashes, etc.
  • Toki shakuyakusan: Tendency to coldness and anemia
  • Keishibukuryogan: Hot flashes, headache, lower abdominal pain, etc.

There are individual differences in menopausal symptoms, and it is necessary to take Chinese herbal medicine that matches the symptoms . Kampo medicine gradually improves the symptoms, so it is easy to incorporate it into your life, so if you want to alleviate the symptoms little by little, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

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These are 5 reasons why exercise is important for menopausal women.

In order to reduce the risk of painful menopausal upsets and all kinds of diseases, it may be a good idea to incorporate exercise into your daily life.

Canvas's test kit "Menopause Check" allows you to self-check whether the symptoms you are concerned about are related to menopause or due to other factors, based on the balance of hormones related to ovulation and physical condition. increase. Please try it at home. More details can be found here .

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1) Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, National Health and Nutrition Survey, 2017 https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/houdou/0000177189_00001.html

2) Kiyoko Miyauchi. Literature review on health education for menopausal women over the past 10 years.2019 https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/kenkokyoiku/17/1/17_1_3/_pdf

3) Natalia M Grindler. Menopause and exercise.2015 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26382311/

4) Beate C Sydora.Can walking exercise programs improve health for women in menopause transition and postmenopausal? Findings from a scoping review.2020 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32404793/

5) Hajime Orimo. Guidelines for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.2015 http://www.josteo.com/ja/guideline/doc/15_1.pdf

6) I Coll-Risco.Effects of concurrent exercise on cardiometabolic status during perimenopause: the FLAMENCO Project.2018 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30392388/

7) Jolanta Dąbrowska. Twelve-week exercise training and the quality of life in menopausal women - clinical trial.2016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27095954/

8) Miguel Soares Conceição.Sixteen weeks of resistance training can decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome in healthy postmenopausal women.2013 ResultsMetabolic syndrome Z-score 1224 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24072967/

9) ML Maltais. Changes in muscle mass and strength after menopause.2009 Abstract https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19949277/

10) Kai Y et al., Menopause, 2016 https://www.my-zaidan.or.jp/tai-ken/introduce/detail.php?id=c3b41ea2c8e0023043386d9dfbc4c097&tmp=1546896998