The Importance Of Exercise in the Postmenopausal Years - Kamm McKenzie OBGYN

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The Importance Of Exercise in the Postmenopausal Years

Originally written and published in September of 2019

I am into exercise. But starting in college, I went about 15 years without exercising.

Then I got peer-pressured into doing p90x my last year in residency. Ever since then I have been exercising regularly.

Most habits take 90 days to set in, and I think that the work-out habit stuck after I did that program.

As of the writing of this blog, I am recovering from rotator cuff surgery.

One of the hardest things for me is not being able to do what I want to do from an exercise standpoint.

I was thrilled when I got the green light to ride a stationary bike (albeit in my sling…whomp whomp). But it is better than nothing.

Exercise is always an important part of overall health. Exercise in the postmenopausal years is no exception. Especially as it pertains to bone health.

Obviously, there are other health benefits of staying active during these years. Decrease in hot flashes, improved mental health, improved cardiovascular health, and weight control.

Weight control is the typically toughest thing for most postmenopausal women. They typically eat the same (or healthier), and exercise the same (or more), and still cannot lose weight. Or often gain weight.

That is a discussion for another day, but it is a real phenomenon and you are not alone, or abnormal, if you are experiencing that.

We have always known that exercise (especially weight-bearing exercise) is beneficial for bone health and osteoporosis prevention.

A recent study I found interesting tried to quantify the amount of “cardio” type exercise that is beneficial.

The study participants were allowed to do whatever “cardio” they wanted; i.e. walking, running, biking. One group did 300 minutes a week and the other 150 minutes a week.

Let’s be honest… that is not an insignificant amount of exercise.

I calculate that to be the equivalent of 60 minutes 5 days a week, or 50 minutes 6 days a week, for the longer group, and half that for the shorter group.

Of note, the participants were allowed 3 weeks to work up to this volume of exercise.

The results showed those in the 300 minute group had significantly less bone mineral loss at a year than the group at 150 minutes. This held up at 1 year after the study ended, even if people stopped exercising.

In addition, the bone health of those that include more high-impact training (think jumping for example) had even less bone mineral loss.

The results are not overly surprising, but do remind us that exercise is important for many aspects of health. This includes bone health and decreased risk of osteoporosis.

So find something that works for you, your schedule, and whatever aches/pains you chronically have. Then stick with it for a few months.

Because if you stick with it, it will stick with you!

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