Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Exercise for Menopausal Women: Less is More

"I'm getting a muffin-top for the first time in my life."

This wasn't the first time a 40-something female client lamented her unexpected weight gain, so I asked a few questions.

She hits the gym hard nearly every morning, early, taking only the rare day off.

Sleep? Maybe six hours a day.

I didn't even have to ask about her diet. I prescribed immediately:


She looked at me, confused. She was doing what she had been told: work out hard and you'll get the shape you want. And here I was telling her something very, very different.

New research has revealed that the harder peri-menopausal and menopausal women work out, the more likely they are to not reach their weight goals. They're not gaining extra muscle and they're not losing extra fat.

Here are a few recommendations for women who have hit a plateau at that stage of their lives:

  • Sleep, sleep, sleep. Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep every day. Any less than that, your body has lulls during the course of the day and your metabolism comes to a screeching halt. Your body needs more rest and recovery so you can reach your fitness goals.
  • No high-intensity cardio. Keep your heart rate elevated but steady. Do not look for an extra-high heart rate to make extra gains because it won't work.
  • Take time off. Work out no more three to four times a week. Make sure you have two consecutive days of rest after a workout.
  • Add weight training. It helps increase bone density and burns more calories over the course of the next couple of days after a workout.

Don't forget your basics:

  • drink enough water (aim to drink a glass of water when you wake up, a glass when you go to bed and a glass with each of your small meals) 
  • eat five or six small meals rather than three big ones (but keep your total calorie count the same as you would for the bigger meals)

Be sure to check with your trainer if you have questions, or send me an e-mail.

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