Staying Healthy After Menopause

Staying Healthy After Menopause

Woman holding water bottle, walking outdoors

The key to staying youthful and active
after menopause is good nutrition and regular physical activity.

Nutrition after menopause

As you age, your nutritional needs
change. Before menopause, you should have about 1,000 mg of calcium daily. After
menopause, you should have up it to 1,200 mg of calcium per day.

Vitamin D is also very important
for calcium absorption and bone formation. According to the National Institutes of
Health, you should have 600 IU of vitamin D per day until age 70. Then it should be
increased to 800 IU. Vitamin D can greatly cut your risk of spinal fractures. But,
too
much calcium or vitamin D can cause kidney stones, constipation, or abdominal pain,
especially if you have kidney problems.

The importance of exercise after menopause

Many women gain weight after
menopause. This may be because of declining estrogen levels. Raising your activity
level
will help avoid this weight gain. Regular exercise benefits the heart and bones. It
also
helps control weight, and can improve your mood. Women who are not physically active
are
more likely to have heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and
osteoporosis. Sedentary women may also have chronic back pain, insomnia, poor
circulation, weak muscles, and depression.

Aerobic activities, such as
walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and dancing, help prevent some of these problems.
They also help raise HDL cholesterol levels, the “good” cholesterol. Weight-bearing
exercises, such as walking and running, as well as moderate weight training, help
increase bone mass. After menopause, moderate exercise helps preserve bone mass in
the
spine and prevents fractures.

Exercise also helps improve mood. Hormones, called endorphins, are released in the
brain. Improved mood lasts for several hours. It also helps the body fight stress.

Always check with your healthcare
provider before starting an exercise program, particularly if you have been inactive.
Your provider can recommend the best exercise program for you.

Sex after menopause

Some women lose interest in sex during and after menopause. The symptoms of menopause,
such as drier genital tissues and lower estrogen levels, may add to less interest
in sex. However, estrogen creams and estrogen pills can restore elasticity and secretions
in the genital area. Personal lubricants may also help make sex more pleasurable.

Women who still have sporadic
periods during perimenopause need to continue using some form of birth control. Check
with your provider about which form of birth control may be best for you.

Staying healthy after menopause

These tips will help you live a healthy life after menopause. Talk to your healthcare
provider for more information:

  • If you are thinking about hormone replacement therapy, discuss the risks and benefits
    with your healthcare provider first. 

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease.

  • Exercise regularly. Even moderate exercise, such as walking a half-hour, 3 times a
    week is beneficial.

  • Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced, low-sugar diet.

  • Control high blood pressure with medicine or lifestyle changes. This will help cut
    your risk for heart disease.

  • Reduce stress in your life through relaxation methods or regular exercise.