Story by: Norton Healthcare on December 15, 2022
Weight gain often happens as people age, and for many, it becomes especially noticeable around the time of menopause.“Even though menopause weight gain is common, it can still be prevented,” said Rosemary C. Sousa, M.D., OB/GYN with Norton Women’s Care. “For example, implementing healthy lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, can go a long way.”
Menopause weight gain can be caused by changes in hormones. The body’s estrogen levels drop during this time, which can reduce metabolism. This drop in estrogen also may cause fatigue combined with an increased appetite.Lower estrogen levels can cause many people to gain weight around their abdomen or midsection area. Other bodily changes that happen naturally during the aging process, such as decreased muscle mass and increased fat, also may cause menopause weight gain. Genetics also can play a role.Lifestyle factors, such as eating an unhealthy diet, being sedentary and not incorporating movement or exercise into your daily routine, also will cause weight gain.
Our team of OB/GYNs provide care based on each woman’s unique needs — during the childbearing years, menopause and beyond.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Aerobic or cardio exercises that get your heart rate pumping will help burn calories. Lifting weights and weight-bearing exercises — walking, jogging, climbing stairs, hiking, tennis and dancing — can increase the bone density typically lost during menopause.
Don’t be tempted to crash diet because of menopause weight gain — instead, incorporate a vitamin-rich diet and limit processed foods or sweet treats. Shop for vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats (like nuts, avocado and olive oil). Menopause bone density loss can be prevented by consuming calcium, including milk and dairy products; vitamin K, found in leafy greens; and vitamin D, which is in fish, egg yolks and mushrooms.
The hormonal changes during menopause can affect sleep patterns. Many people going through menopause experience hot flashes and/or night sweats. Lack of sleep can increase stress, exacerbate negative moods and encourage unhealthy food cravings. Use relaxation techniques at bedtime, such as meditation and limiting screen time, to reduce stress and help encourage rest. If you are stressed, reach out to your support network, such as trusted family members, friends or a therapist.
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