Studies of women aged fifty and over show that most women in this age group are positive that their weight increase is connected with the menopause in their judgment. If you take into account the fact that some people might be using this as an excuse and that others may not have made allowances in their diet for decreased levels of activity due to lifestyle changes, it is still hard to explain why women in this age group tend to put excess weight on different areas of the body, especially the stomach, whereas any weight gained in younger women tends to be on the hips.
In fact, the truth is that hormonal changes do have a part to play in this phenomenon, although the process is not completely understood. At menopause a woman stops ovulating, her monthly menstruation periods come to an end, and her body produces much lower levels of the female hormone estrogen, which is responsible for the ovulation process.
Low estrogen has been shown to cause weight increase in animals and it is almost certainly the reason why women’s bodies change shape. While women of childbearing age accumulate fat in the lower body, after the menopause they amass it on the abdomen instead, like men. This leads to a greater risk of heart disease.
At the same time, both men and women tend to find muscle turning to fat as they grow older and the metabolism slows down. This means that if you do not adjust your eating habits, you will probably find that your weight increases. A person of 60 just does not need as many calories as a person of 40.
Hormonal therapy with estrogen is sometimes prescribed to control menopausal symptoms. Many women will be surprised to hear that studies have shown that hormonal therapy does not result in weight increase. Some women go through bloating and water retention in the early stages of hormonal therapy but this is usually temporary.
Hormonal therapy can reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing the changes in storage of body fat around the abdomen and lowering cholesterol. On the other hand, hormonal therapy has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in some studies.
If you find that you are gaining weight around the menopause, there are several things you can do.
Firstly, you should eat a healthy, low fat diet with plenty of fibre and avoid sugar.
Secondly, you have to take regular exercise. As people get older their physical activity levels naturally go down. Work frequently becomes less physically demanding, there are no kids to run around after, we take less active holidays and do things more slowly. Thirty minutes of reasonable physical activity every day will help to balance out the effect of this.
Thirdly. you must preserve your muscle strength and mass. Use weights for arm muscles and walking or cycling for your legs.
Fourthly, try not to get worried about the alterations to the shape of your body. If you are not too overweight, but simply have a thicker waist and slimmer legs, then don’t worry.
As usual, you ought to seek advice from your doctor before commencing any exercise routine, if you have any medical conditions or if your fitness levels are low. Your doctor can also help with symptoms of the menopause and weight increase.
Owen Jones, the author of this piece, writes on many subjects, but is currently involved with how to lose weight online. If you have an interest in losing weight too, please go over to our website now at Why Can’t I Lose Weight?. This article, Menopause And Weight Gain: Is There A Connection? is available for free reprint.