According to a new American study, menopausal women over 50 years of age can reap even more benefits from exercise than their premenopausal counterparts when it comes to staying fit and slim.
Menopause, which corresponds to the end of ovarian activity, is a physiological state characterized by significant physical and hormonal changes.
The study conducted by the North American Menopause Society focused on the benefits of physical activity through menopause.
The study found that post-menopausal women have on average a higher body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and waist measurements. However these women may be able to use physical activity, even light exercise with greater effect than women in premenopause (period of fertility that begins at puberty).
The researchers studied 630 premenopausal women and 274 post-menopausal women. The team also measured the amount of time each participant spent doing different kinds of physical activity as well as sedentary periods.
Light exercise can make all the difference
Without surprise, the researchers found that post-menopausal women took part in much less physical activity than the other women and accordingly, showed the highest periods of inactivity. Predictably, physical activity was associated with a lower BMI, waist size and body fat percentage, but not in the same proportions in both groups.
"Across the board, for each measure of body composition, we found that light physical activity had a greater impact in postmenopausal compared with premenopausal women," explained Dr. Lisa Troy, lead author of the study from the University of Massachusetts. "We additionally found that sedentary behavior was more strongly associated with waist circumference in postmenopausal women. This is an important public health message because, as women go through menopause, physiological changes may decrease a woman's motivation to exercise."
The results indicate that even moderate, regular exercise, like walking or gardening, can make a difference on body composition.
The message is also useful for doctors of middle-aged women who can remind patients how to prevent weight gain or offer counsel on weight loss.