Although there is much more to learn about exercise research and menopause, what we do know supports physical activity as a means to help manage menopausal consequences and protect against heart disease and osteoporosis, says Jan Schroeder, PhD, an associate professor of kinesiology at California State University, Long Beach. Below, Schroeder explains what research says and offers tips for designing a fitness program for this time of life.
When devising an exercise program for use during menopause, include car- diovascular, strength and flexibility segments that challenge and motivate you. For assistance in developing a program, use the suggestions below and contact a certified personal trainer.
Cardiorespiratory Fitness. The goal of a cardiorespiratory fitness pro- gram is to improve your aerobic condi- tioning and body composition. Choose a weight-bearing activity, such as walking, to help protect bone density.
Resistance Training. Improvement in bone mineral density (BMD) is site- specific. Only those bones attached to the exercising muscles are affected, owing to specificity of stimulation. Therefore, choose exercises to strengthen the small and large muscle groups of the spine and hip, the most common sites of osteoporotic frac- tures. In addition, pick exercises that help with posture and realign the spine and pelvic girdle (e.g., upper-back and leg/hip exercises).
Flexibility Training. Until there is a clearer understanding of the most appropriate flexibility design, follow ACSM's flexibility guidelines. The or- ganization recommends performing a static stretching routine that exercises all major muscle groups at least 2-3 (preferably 5-7) days per week, hold- ing each stretch for 15-30 seconds to mild discomfort, with 2-4 repetitions per stretch (ACSM 2006).
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). 2006.
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Krumm, E.M., et al. 2006. The relationship between daily steps and body composition in postmenopausal women. Journal of Women's Health, 15 (2), 202-10.