The symptoms of menopause usually start dawning on women when they start approaching their fifties. The menopause is almost always accompanied by a wide range of hormonal fluctuations such as hot flushes, joint pain, low mood and vaginal dryness. Changes to the body are also common at this point in a woman’s life and loss of muscle mass, loss of bone density and slowed metabolism are prevalent.
However, exercising regularly - especially weightlifting - can help them adapt to many of these changes and improve their general health and wellbeing. Some of the common ways in which weightlifting can help are:
Increased bone density
Weightlifting not only influences the muscles of the body, but also the bones. Resistance-based training (which includes weightlifting) can stimulate the formation of new bone tissue, thus leading to an increase in bone density in the body.
It is especially beneficial for women who are postmenopausal and at risk of osteoporosis. In fact, women who lift weights regularly also have significantly higher levels of bone mineral density. Greater bone density reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Preventing loss of muscle mass
With the advent of age, women continue to lose muscle mass and strength. This increases the risk of fractures, body pain and injuries. The menopause could also contribute to the loss of muscle mass.
Research has demonstrated over the years that weightlifting is the most efficient way for older adults to maintain or even build newer muscle mass. For postmenopausal women, research has shown that those who participate in regular resistance training are less likely to experience loss in muscle mass and strength compared to those who participate other forms of exercise such as stretching and mobility.
In fact, research has also shown that weight training could be beneficial for women during the perimenopause period as well.
Boost in metabolism
Weightlifting helps people to put on lean muscle mass, which in turn ends up boosting metabolism. This allows the body to burn a greater amount of calories at rest. This can be especially important for women just before and after the menopause, as hormonal changes can lead to a decrease in metabolism and an increase in body fat.
Research has shown that women who took part in a 12-week resistance training programme saw a much greater increase in resting metabolic rate and it helps them manage excess weight gain.
Improvement in mood
It is natural for women who go through menopause to experience mental health issues and mood disorders. They may also suffer from depression and anxiety.
Weightlifting and exercising have been proven time and time again to have positive effects and can help with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Resistance training can also help in improving self esteem, mood as well as fatigue. It can also help them sleep better and helps the release of endorphins which are natural painkillers and mood-boosting chemicals in the brain.