It’s not just the years or the calories that pack on the pounds for older women. Scientists believe some of it might be caused by our body’s chemistry and how that makes us think.
One thing for sure, the older you get, the more important exercise becomes.
Physically pushing yourself is harder for women over 50.
“I would rather sit on the couch at home and watch re-runs,” said Meschelle Sevier, who exercises four days a week.
“I would probably run on the treadmill two to three minutes and then walk. Now it’s down to one or two minutes,” said Annie Green, who manages to exercise every day.
But why does physical activity decrease for women entering menopause? Researchers think changes in brain activity may be the answer.
Assistant Professor Victoria Vieira-Potter says the key is to be cognizant of what is happening. Small lifestyle tweaks can improve health and combat weight gain.
“We don’t need a lot of activity; these women don’t need to take up marathon running because they’re going through menopause,” said Vieira-Potter, who has a Ph.D in nutritional science.
Researchers identified a link between ovarian hormones and dopamine levels in the brain. Vieira-Potter believes the loss of ovarian hormones in postmenopausal women leads to a decline in dopamine signals in the brain’s pleasure or reward center.
“I think what my research shows is that, that’s true, is that they’re not consuming more calories, rather there’s just a very small drop in physical activity that happens that is not their fault but actually changes that might occur in the brain that drive this reduced motivation to be physically active,” says Vieira-Potter.
Women are encouraged when entering and then following menopause to be proactive about exercise, because their brain may be telling them to slow down.
For active older women like Sevier and Green, it’s all about push-ups, chin-ups, and cardio.
“I don’t feel right something is missing if I don’t exercise,” said Green.
“I feel fantastic, and I dramatically throw myself on the floor like it was the hardest workout ever and that even makes me feel really good too,” said Sevier.
Before starting any exercise program, it’s recommended that you consult with your doctor first.
Copyright 2016 KING