Exercise builds bone mass in postmenopausal women. In a study of 320 healthy postmenopausal women, just 20 to 25 minutes of resistance training (think squats, dumbbell presses and rowing) plus seven to 10 minutes of aerobic weight-bearing activity (like skipping, jogging and jumping rope) three times a week not only stopped but reversed bone loss.
Menopausal symptoms can make getting through daily activities a challenge, but you don’t have to tough it out. Studies show regular exercise helps relieve these annoying, sometimes debilitating, symptoms.Hot flashes
It seems counterintuitive—after all, jog around the block and perspiration pours while your body temperature rises. But research shows that exercise reduces hot flashes by decreasing the amount of certain circulating hormones, nourishing the brain’s hypothalamus and raising levels of endorphins, the feel-good hormones released in the brain as a response to stress. Studies show exercising as little as 20 minutes, three times a week, may provide significant hot-flash relief.Irritability, depression and mood swings
Research proves it: If you’re feeling glum, exercise can help lift your spirits. Endorphins help relieve stress and tension. You sleep better, so you’re calmer and more even keeled during the day. Yoga is a good exercise that incorporates controlled breathing. But you don’t have to choose a soothing form of exercise; pick any activity that gives you pleasure. Walk or swim. Build strength with dumbbells. You’ll focus your energy and forget your emotions.Sleep disorders
Declining estrogen levels can be a sleep killer. So can night sweats (hot flashes that occur as you sleep). What’s more, depression or other menopausal mood problems can contribute to insomnia. Aerobic exercise on most days of the week limits anxiety and irritability and reduces hot flashes so you sleep more soundly—as long as it’s done at least a few hours before bedtime so it doesn’t keep you awake.
Talk to your doctor about the type of exercise that’s best for you—but make sure you ask for help if you have severe hot flashes that don’t go away.