Menopause and Lifestyle
Diet and exercise are the two most powerful tools women have to avoid the health concerns that may accompany menopause.
Menopause and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is, “a bone disease that is characterized by progressive loss of bone density and thinning of bone tissue, causing bones to break easily.” (1)
“Because of osteoporosis about half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra (bone of the spine) during their lifetime.” (3)
Menopause can weaken women’s bones; this is due to there being less estrogen in the body around the onset of menopause.
To mitigate osteoporosis women should stop smoking and eat foods rich in vitamin D or take a supplement. They should also engage in weight-bearing exercises such as lifting weights, hiking, stair climbing, and step aerobics. (1)
Menopause and Cardiovascular Disease
Women are more likely to have cardiovascular disease after menopause. There are two reasons for this, one being age and the other being the loss of estrogen. (1)
Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, can lead to heart attacks and strokes, both of which are very serious.
A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying blood to the heard gets clogged, preventing blood flow to part of the heart, and causing part of the heart to die. (4)
Types of strokes associated with heart disease are ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are caused by a blood clot preventing blood-flow to part of the brain. This is the more common of the two. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, this is usually attributed to hypertension. (4)
To avoid suffering from heart disease and developing a heart attack or stroke, doctors recommend keeping your weight under control by eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise.
Menopause and Obesity
Weight gain in middle aged women is common and with it the risks of heart disease. If women maintained a healthy weight, the risks of heart disease are reduced. (3)
Many women will blame menopause or hormone therapy for their weight gain but there is no scientific evidence to support this. Menopause may however be related to the redistribution of fat to the abdominal area, changing a woman’s shape from that of a pear to one more resembling an apple. (2)
Most middle aged women in North America are overweight (2) but menopause is not the reason for it.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle, the earlier the better, will go a long way to fending off the most serious health considerations of menopause.
1. Office on Women’s Health
2. The North American Menopause Society
3. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
4. American Heart Association