Older Adults

Exercise and Menopause

May 11, 2018   /



Reviewed and Updated by Anne Danahy, MS, RDN, LDN


Some degree of weight gain is common in women during peri and postmenopause. Researchers debate whether this is due to hormonal changes or the slowing of the metabolism due to aging. Regardless of the reasons, health professionals recommend regular exercise to minimize midlife weight gain and associated health concerns in women.


What You Should Know About Weight Loss in Older Adults
10 Tips to Help Older Adults Meet the MyPlate Guidelines

In the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), researchers determined that the average 3-year weight gain in women ages 40 to 55 is 4.5 pounds. In addition to weight gain, a woman’s body composition changes with aging and menopause, with an increase in overall fat mass, and especially abdominal fat.1

Because lean body mass drives metabolic functioning, it makes sense that an increase in fat mass may encourage further weight gain, as well as unfavorable changes in metabolic markers. This shift in body composition, coupled with reduced activity as women age further, exacerbates weight gain and increases the risk of metabolic diseases.

Many things contribute to decreased activity in older women, including:

  • Aches and pains
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweat
  • Poor sleep
  • Appetite disturbances
  • Decreased physical demands
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Decreased activity-based support systems
  • Joint pain and injuries
  • Decreased stamina
  • Medical conditions
  • Medications that affect appetite, sleep, or digestion


NEXT: How does strength training impact metabolic function?