Menopause brings many new changes and possible issues within the female body. Though more challenging as you get older, muscle mass maintenance is still plausible after women enter and pass the menopausal stage.
Women typically enter menopause some time during their late 40s or early 50s. During this time, their reproductive organs cease production and secretion of important sexual hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. As hormone levels decline, impacted individuals eventually experience a cessation of menstrual periods and are no longer able to bear children.
The decreasing systemic concentration of sexual hormones often precipitates numerous untoward physical and mental manifestations, including but not limited to night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, fatigue, cognitive difficulties like memory loss and concentration lapses, sleeplessness, mood changes and decreased libido.
Menopause and Decreased Muscle Mass
A sometimes overlooked but potentially significant menopausal symptom is decreased muscle mass. This is usually caused by diminished estrogen levels. Estrogen is critical to the creation and strengthening of muscle cells. Therefore, when systemic levels of estrogen are low, older women might experience problems like muscle wasting and injuries.
Moreover, estrogen plays a critical role in optimal bone formation and function. Weak bones can place greater stress on adjacent muscles, which could also elicit weakening and damage to these muscles.
Problems Associated with Declining Muscle Mass
Declining muscle mass could precipitate any number of physical injuries, like painful strains and pulls. Additionally, and as previously stated, this could place an added strain on the bones and soft tissues near impacted muscles. More serious injuries like sprains, tears and even bone fractures are more likely to occur, which could cause significant pain and mobility problems. If pain doesn’t subside, aggressive therapeutic protocols like surgery may be required and necessitate extended recovery times.
Maintaining Muscle Strength During and After Menopause
Fortunately, menopausal women can avoid the potential pitfalls associated with muscle wasting by employing the following preventative techniques:
- Remaining or Becoming Physically Active – Continuing to partake in or beginning an exercise regimen is paramount to the prevention of muscle wasting in menopausal and post-menopausal women. Many healthcare professionals and fitness experts suggest participation in some type of weight training program. However, for those who do not feel comfortable partaking in anything that strenuous, activities like walking or swimming might provide intended results. The purpose of such exercises should be to move the muscles as much as possible.
- Consuming a Healthy Diet – Proper nourishment is critical to muscle preservation. Medical experts and dietitians suggest that consuming a diet rich in nutrients, especially protein, can prove beneficial to muscle strengthening. Products with excessive quantities of potentially detrimental substances like fat, salt and sugar should be eaten sparingly.
- Staying Hydrated – Drinking an adequate amount of water is essential to maintaining muscle strength, so menopausal women should be drinking at least eight, eight-ounce glasses per day. Some medical professionals suggest exceeding this amount, particularly when engaging in moderate to heavy exercise. Moreover, alcoholic beverages should be consumed on a limited basis because alcohol possesses the tendency to precipitate dehydration.
- Obtaining Adequate Sleep – Rest is crucial to the body’s ability to relax and repair muscles. Menopausal women are urged to obtain anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep per evening.
- Maximizing Workout Regiments – While health and fitness experts stress the importance of engaging in frequent and meaningful exercise, these professionals also underscore the necessity of training properly. Menopausal women are encouraged to never exercise on an empty stomach and to always stretch prior to partaking in any type of physical activity.
- Augmenting Diet Using Supplements – While subscribing to a nutritious diet is crucial to developing strong muscles, augmenting food intake using supplements might additionally help achieve this goal. This is especially true with vitamin D. Research studies have proven that an increased intake of this nutrient might significantly enhance the strength and agility of muscles in menopausal women.