We’ve been finding ourselves talking about menopause more and more in the clinic recently as we all have clients who are seeing effects of this or have been inquisitive about it and what it means for their bodies.
Simply put, when estrogen declines during menopause it’s common to experience low energy, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, changes in libido, mood changes, etc. Estrogen is integral in building muscle mass. As we age, it becomes harder and harder for our body to build and even maintain muscle mass.
Especially for women.
Women who for an entire generation were taught that lifting weights or resistance training was for men and would make them “bulky”. Women who were taught that the only exercise they should do is some sort of cardio to meet a patriarchal social norm. This has put them at an extreme disadvantage as they reach menopausal age - they’re already behind the eight ball in having a lean muscle mass reserve as they age.
Why is it important to have a store of lean muscle mass?
Less lean muscle mass = decreased bone mass density = significantly increased risk for osteoporosis.
This means increased risk for broken bones, falls, pain, and decreased capacity for doing things you love.
The solution is to start resistance training and eating a higher protein diet in your 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s so when you reach menopause you have a bigger reserve of lean muscle mass as your body composition starts to change.
But what if you haven’t done that?
The good news: nothing you experience during menopause is permanent or out of your control. It’s never too late to begin resistance training and eating a high protein diet. Resistance training has been proven to preserve muscle mass and build it in aging women. Research also shows that older women without a lot of training history often have the best results with body recomposition (fat loss and muscle gain).
Don’t buy into the notion that your body breaks at menopause. That’s a cop out. Things do change and do get notably harder. In the same breath as we tell you to give your body some grace, we also challenge you to step up to the plate to be the best you you can be for you and your family. You deserve it.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
As always, we’re here to help if you don’t know where to start. There is ALWAYS a safe way to start resistance training..aka lifting heavy things.