Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Staying Healthy After Menopause

Conditions A-Z - Staying Healthy After Menopause

While this "change of life" called menopause was once a life-stage dreaded by many women, today's woman has an abundance of medical knowledge and resources available to her as she experiences menopause. The key to staying youthful and active is good nutrition and regular physical exercise.

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Nutritional needs after menopause:

As a person ages, nutritional requirements change. A premenopausal woman should consume about 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Women after menopause should consume 1,200 mg of calcium per day, according the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Vitamin D is also very important for calcium absorption and bone formation. According to a 1992 study, women with postmenopausal osteoporosis who took vitamin D for three years, significantly reduced their risk of spinal fractures. This issue is controversial, however, as vitamin D can cause kidney stones, constipation, or abdominal pain, especially in women with kidney problems.

Other nutritional guidelines recommended by the National Research Council of the National Institutes of Health include:

The importance of exercise after menopause:

Menopausal women often experience weight gain, possibly because of declining estrogen levels. Raising your activity level will help to avoid this weight gain. Exercise becomes particularly important as a woman ages. Regular exercise benefits the heart and bones, helps regulate weight, and can be a mood enhancer, creating a better sense of well-being. Women who are physically inactive are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Sedentary women may also suffer from chronic back pain, insomnia, poor circulation, weak muscles, loss of bone mass, and depression.

Aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and dancing help prevent some of these problems and also help raise HDL cholesterol levels, commonly referred to as the "good" cholesterol. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking and running, as well as moderate weight training, help increase bone mass. In postmenopausal women, moderate exercise helps preserve bone mass in the spine and prevent fractures.

Exercise also has a mood-enhancing quality, due to hormones, called endorphins, which are released in the brain. The mood-heightening quality of these endorphins can last for several hours and helps the body fight stress.

Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program, particularly if you have been sedentary. Your physician can recommend the appropriate exercise program for you.

Staying healthy after menopause:

The following tips will help to provide healthy living after menopause. Consult your physician for more information.

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