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Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread
How risky is weight gain after menopause?
Weight gain after menopause can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In turn, these conditions increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Excess weight also increases the risk of various types of cancer, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer. In fact, some research suggests that gaining as little as 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) at age 50 or later could increase the risk of breast cancer by 30 percent.
What's the best way to prevent weight gain after menopause?
There's no magic formula for preventing — or reversing — weight gain after menopause. Simply stick to weight-control basics:
- Move more. Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds or simply maintain a healthy weight. Strength training counts, too. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently — which makes it easier to control your weight. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine and do strength training exercises at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase your activity even more.
- Eat less. To maintain your current weight — let alone lose excess pounds — you may need about 200 fewer calories a day during your 50s than you did during your 30s and 40s. To reduce calories without skimping on nutrition, pay attention to what you're eating and drinking. Choose more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Opt for lean sources of protein. Don't skip meals, which may lead you to overeat later.
- Seek support. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who'll support your efforts to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Better yet, team up and make the lifestyle changes together.
The bottom line? Successful weight loss at any stage of life requires permanent changes in diet and exercise habits. Take a brisk walk every day. Try a yoga class. Trade cookies for fresh fruit. Share restaurant meals with a friend. Commit to the changes and enjoy a healthier you!Previous page
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- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Where to start. In: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Healthier You: Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Rockville, Md.: Office of Disease Prevention and Health; 2005. http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/healthieryou/html/chapter4.html. Accessed June 15, 2010.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed June 15, 2010.
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- Lee I, et al. Physical activity and weight gain prevention. JAMA. 2010;303:1173.
- Kohrt WM. Menopause and weight gain: Does exercise attenuate or prevent weight gain during peri- and postmenopause? Geriatrics. 2009;64:28.
- Nelson JK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 16, 2010.