Exercise and Menopause: Missing That Workout Buzz?

For women that are starting to experience menopause, you already know that your body is going through a whole host of changes. If dealing with all that wasn’t enough, University of Missouri researchers have discovered that changes in ovarian hormones may affect how you feel after exercising.

Exercise After Menopause

You are probably already aware that women after menopause are more likely to gain weight. But what if this is partly connected to the fact that exercising no longer makes postmenopausal women feel as good?

The University of Missouri researchers saw a decrease in dopamine in highly fit rats that had their ovaries removed. The reduced levels of dopamine indicated that the pleasure center in the brain might be affected by the changes caused by menopause. This spot in our brain is where messages about pleasure and motivation are processed and reinforced.

So how can this problem be fixed for post-menopausal women? The researchers hope that the motivation to exercise could be maintained by somehow activating dopamine receptors in the brain.

How To Fight Back: 4 Ways To Improve Your Motivation

Your motivation to exercise may not be what it was before menopause, but you know the stakes are high. So what can you do to take care of your body during and after this momentous change?

  1. Blend cardio with strength training. If you haven’t focused much on building muscle, now is the time to start. Strength training helps you preserve muscles and burn calories. If you have never done any work with weights before, start small with bands or light weights and increase gradually.
  2. Pound the pavement. Maybe you have preferred swimming or cycling up until now. While both offer a great workout with many health benefits, they don’t provide the weight-bearing exercise your body needs to help keep osteoporosis at bay. Mixing in a brisk walk at least four days a week will do the trick and protect you from future calamities like a broken hip.
  3. Keep at it. There is no reason that an active woman in her 50s or 60s cannot do the exercises she did in her 40s. Post menopause is not the time to start taking it easy on yourself if you have been a regular at the gym.
  4. Listen to your stomach. Your metabolism will change with menopause, so it can help if you start to pay even closer attention to the cues your stomach is sending you. If you aren’t truly hungry, don’t eat. Also, y <>ou probably won’t need as much to eat to feel full as you go through menopause. Try to be aware of your sense of fullness, so you can adjust how much you consume.