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Fitness and menopause

As we age our muscles reduce in both size and strength. This is called sarcopenia and it is a natural occurrence.

As we age our muscles reduce in both size and strength. This is called sarcopenia and it is a natural occurrence.

Most adults will lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade and women, after the age of 30, will also decrease in our muscle density while increasing our intramuscular fat (awesome, huh?).

Intramuscular fat is the fat located throughout the skeletal muscles and has been associated with conditions such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Now, because of this loss of lean muscle mass (that happens with every passing decade), our metabolism will also decrease and a lower metabolic rate is one of the main contributors to middle-aged spread.

This can all change with a progressive strength training program. More than cardio, or aerobic fitness, strength training is the key for women in their menopausal years to decrease body fat, build lean muscle mass, improve bone density and increase their metabolism.

Other benefits of strength training include:

Reduced risk of adultonset diabetes

Lower blood pressure

Decreased arthritis pain

Maintenance of, and improvement in, lower back health Without strength training the menopausal woman will continue that rapid decline of lean muscle tissue, which in turn will make her a fatstoring machine instead of a fat-burning machine.

Strength training can also provide a "calming" effect on our emotions and help aid with sleep - both symptoms of menopause. This translates to a happier household in general.

Try this sample workout program, specific for women, to help build your lean muscle mass.

Perform like a circuit, one exercise after the other, for two to three sets.

All you need for this workout is 30 minutes, a stability ball and some heavy dumbbells.

Go Fit Gals has a plan specific for peri-and menopausal women called the Hot Flash Hottie. In this plan we have developed six weeks of progressive workouts

that focus on building a fitness base and then layering on top of that base. By the end we have had women see improvements of 100 to 600 per cent in strength and power - as well as inches lost and weight dropped! No other form of exercise can do that for this population.

So, go pick some weights up ladies and start channeling your inner Hot Flash Hottie.

PJ Wren is a local personal trainer and writer in the Delta area who can be reached at www.gofitgals. com.