Is exercise harder post menopause?

This blog is obviously aimed at the lady readers but I thought it is always helpful for everyone to understand what happens to our bodies at different stages in our life.

I have often come across women who have suffered weight gain and lack of motivation to exercise post menopause. The report that I read, written by Dr Vieira-Potter from University of Missouri, describes the problem as…’

‘For many women, working out is completely different after menopause hits.

They feel lethargic, unmotivated, and don’t get the same buzz from a run or a zumba class as they did before.’

The team at the University of Missouri has identified a link between ovarian hormones and dopamine levels in the brain, which make exercise feel so good. In the paper they reported…

‘We found that the decrease in physical activity that leads to weight gain may be caused by changes in brain activity.’

 The menopause, which tends to strike by the early 50s, can cause mood swings, depression and anxiety.

In many cases, it affects a woman’s drive to move, and many women gain weight during this time.  

To examine this side effect, Dr Vieira-Potter’s study tracked the physical activity of rats – some that were physically fit and some that were not.

First they monitored their fitness levels and the level of activity in the pleasure center of their brains.

Then they removed their ovaries to mimic the effects of menopause, when women stop producing estrogen in such significant quantities.

Both groups – no matter how physically active they were before – showed dramatic reductions in their motivation to run on a running wheel.

All of the rats also experienced a drop in the amount of dopamine in the pleasure centre of their brain.

It suggests the hormonal changes experienced during menopause could impact on the brain, and that could be the process that hampers physical activity.’

Whilst it would be a dramatic step to start taking drugs to counter-effect this drop in dopamine, at least by understanding the changes happening in the body post menopause, it can help us formulate appropriate exercise programmes to continue to help maintain health and fitness with a different ‘buzz’ to encourage exercise. Keep on exercising ladies, it’s so worth it so please find what makes you buzz!


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