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Exercise and diet can help with menopause


Exercise and a healthy diet are essential to dealing with the symptoms of menopause. Exercise and a healthy diet are essential to dealing with the symptoms of menopause.

One of the major complaints I get as women start to age is concern about menopause. Though I assure them that it is a normal part of life, most are not happy. Women often look at the changes that occur in their bodies as they age as problems, however these changes are normal at this time of life.

With women being more health conscious and more active, most want to find a way to go through menopause as gracefully as possible. In most cases, women are not as concerned about loss of childbearing ability.

There are those fortunate individuals who have no hot flashes and go through menopause with no problems. They are the exception. For those that have not lost their uterus, one of the first signs will be loss of the period. This usually happens when one notes their menstrual bleed is happening less and less. The skipped months lengthen out until finally a year has passed without a menstrual bleed.

The emotional toll varies from woman to woman. Some have no problem while others experience varying degrees of irritability and moodiness. Some of this irritability and moodiness, unfortunately, may be caused by the loss of sleep that accompanies hot flashes for some women.

Whether to treat the hot flashes depends on the woman and her health issues. If the decision is made to treat them, the modality chosen should be thoroughly discussed with her health care provider. Estrogens are a little controversial but there are those patients who require them. Women who take estrogen for a short period of time seem to have less weight gain.

Recent articles have raised concern about the weight that a lot of women gain during midlife and menopause. Dr. Ekta Kapoor from the Mayo Clinic is concerned about the future health risks associated with such weight gain. The main concern regarding weight gain is the possible development of heart disease. Kapoor recommends, of course, adopting a healthy lifestyle consisting of exercising more, 150 minutes a week recommended, and watching the diet. She believes that resistance types of exercises are best. They improve body muscle mass and that improves the amount of calories that are burned.

She also recommends eating a Mediterranean diet since it is known to improve one’s cardiovascular health. This diet is high in plant based food, whole grains, nuts and legumes. She is even in favor of giving weight loss medications to help with the weight loss.

As with any weight loss, Dr. Kapoor warns about that dreaded regain of those pounds one has worked so hard to lose.

She notes that a large portion of women who have lost weight will regain it back within three to five years. This happens less when women have good social support and exercise 200 to 300 minutes a week. Some counseling could also help.

She notes that those who exercise at a lower amount of time, lack social support and/or are emotional eaters. These patients are more likely to gain the weight back. She still encourages ladies to keep trying to lose weight because the health benefits are worth it.

Remember, menopause will not last forever. This too shall pass.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on North Carolina A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at