Initiate Lifestyle Changes Before Menopause
Perimenopause is a great time to prioritize health, even before early signs of menopause such as changes in the menstrual cycle.
During perimenopause, women lose metabolic flexibility, and the ability to convert available fuel into energy, and this continues after menopause. Unlike in younger women, fat is used less to fuel the body after menopause, which impacts lean body mass, exercise performance, fatigue, and shifts body weight toward central obesity. This contributes to the cardiovascular risk associated with menopause. Being proactive by reducing caloric intake and maintaining or increasing exercise helps lessen the impact of metabolic changes during the menopause transition. Continuing the same eating and exercise habits during perimenopause and beyond will result in weight gain. As the body’s metabolism slows, less calories are needed to maintain the same weight. If lifestyle changes don’t occur, women are at risk of gaining weight during this phase in life.
Midlife weight gain is real but can be combatted to dramatically improve health and quality of life post-menopause. Committing to regular exercise and reducing caloric intake before or during perimenopause can manage weight and reduce future cardiovascular risk related to body fat. Metabolic rates vary among women, so everyone must determine how many calories must be reduced to avoid weight gain. Starting lifestyle changes early before menopause makes the menopause transition easier. Women who are already post-menopause may feel they missed their opportunity to get ahead of the body’s changes, however, it is never too late. Everyone benefits from making healthy lifestyle changes with diet and exercise to improve health and manage a healthy weight!