A Complete Menopause Exercise Plan (To Preserve Muscle & Bone Mass)

Are you in menopause and looking for an exercise plan to help you stay fit?

Well, you are in the right place!

Today, you will learn the following:

  • The best type of exercise for postmenopausal women,
  • How much exercise you should do, and
  • Activities you should avoid during menopause

Let’s get started.

A Complete Menopause Workout Plan with a postmenopausal woman doing a side plank

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.

Ok, moving on.



What Type Of Exercise Is Best For Women Over 50?

The best forms of exercise for women over 50 are:

  • weight-bearing resistance exercises,
  • balance training,
  • pelvic floor work, and
  • aerobic activities.

Let’s go into each one in more detail.

Resistance Exercises

Weight-bearing exercises are critical in menopause because they help maintain muscle mass and preserve bone density.

Unfortunately, if you are in this age group, you lose muscle mass and bone mass due to the decrease in estrogen hormone.

As such, resistance training is essential for maintaining optimal muscle and bone health.

Examples of weight-bearing exercises include:

  • walking,
  • jogging,
  • and, of course, my favorite, strength training.

Strength training is ideal because it helps build muscle and preserve your bones simultaneously.

Let’s move on to balance training.

Balance Training

The second type of exercise beneficial for postmenopausal women is balance training.

Balance training helps reduce the risk of falls by improving your coordination and body awareness.

Activities such as tai chi, yoga, pilates, and plyometrics are great for developing balance and coordination.

In addition, you can do single-leg resistance exercises (which I will go over below) to improve your balance.

Moving on.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

The third type of exercise that is beneficial after menopause is pelvic floor exercises.

As estrogen levels decline, your pelvic floor muscles can weaken, which can result in urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Pelvic floor exercises help improve bladder control, reduce urinary leakage, and improve overall pelvic floor health.

Examples of pelvic floor exercises include Kegels, squats, bridges, and planks, which I go over below.

And finally, aerobic exercise.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is essential for maintaining overall cardiovascular health and fitness while reducing unwanted midlife weight gain.

The key is to do something that increases your heart rate for at least 15-20 minutes daily.

Examples of aerobic exercise include:

  • swimming,
  • biking,
  • brisk walking,
  • rowing,
  • high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • and jogging.

So now let’s go over how much exercise you should do.

How Much Exercise Should You Do?

If you have never exercised before, you should start low and slow.

Begin with mild to moderate levels of exercise, such as walking and light resistance training.

Here’s how often you should plan to work out.

Frequency and Duration

Start with 20 minutes of walking three times a week and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you become more comfortable.

Once that becomes manageable, you could add strength-specific training that includes bodyweight exercises.

Aim to do these strength exercises at least three times a week for 20 minutes in addition to your walks.

Intensity

When you are first starting, you should do simple variations of bodyweight exercises to get familiar with the movement patterns.

As you become stronger, you could increase the intensity by:

  • adding in an extra day,
  • increasing the duration of your workout,
  • or doing more challenging bodyweight exercises.

Modifications

Over time, you could add additional resistance to your strength exercises, such as resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, and even barbells.

For cardiovascular exercises, you could vary the intensity and duration of your walks by adding hills, jogging, or cycling.

What If You Already Have A Routine?

If you already have an exercise routine, great!

Continue your routine with the goal of 30 minutes of moderately intense weight-bearing exercise ~4 times a week in addition to walking and pelvic floor training.

What Exercises Should You Avoid?

When exercising after menopause, you should avoid activities that cause pain or discomfort, as these could lead to injury. 

Generally, it is best to avoid the following types of exercises:

  • high impact activities,
  • contact sports, and
  • exercises that require a very high degree of balance

These types of exercises have an above-average risk of trauma which can lead to bone fractures.

Other Safety Tips

Lastly, when doing any form of exercise, make sure you warm up to help reduce risk of injury.

If you are unsure about your technique, seek the help of a personal trainer to ensure proper form.

Finally, always listen to your body and stop if you experience pain or discomfort.

That’s it!


So now that you know this information, you are ready for the PPT’s menopause exercise plan.

Let’s get started!

The PPT’s Weight Training Program For Menopause

For this menopause exercise program, we will focus on strength training exercises to help build muscle, preserve bone density, and improve balance.

Let’s get started!

Warm Up

First, let’s go over a simple warm-up you can do before any workout:

• 5 minutes of light cardio, such as walking, jogging, or cycling.

• 10 Arm Circles

Post menopausal woman doing arm circles

• 10 Body Rotations

Post menopausal woman doing upper body rotations

• 10 Ankle Circles

Post menopausal woman doing ankle rolls with right ankle

• 10 Hip Circles

Post menopausal woman doing hip circles

• 5 Cat-Cows

Post menopausal woman doing cat to cow

Now that you’re warmed up, let’s get into the weight training.

Aim to do 2-3 sets of each exercise with 8-12 repetitions per set.

Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.

Lower Body

For lower body exercises, choose between the following:

  • Squats
Post menopausal woman doing squats
  • Reverse Lunges
Post menopausal woman doing lunges
  • Step-Ups
Post menopausal woman doing step ups
  • Single-leg deadlifts (aka B-stance or staggered stance deadlifts)
Post menopausal woman doing single leg deadlift

Upper Body

For upper-body push exercises, choose between the following:

  • Push-Ups
Post menopausal woman doing push up
  • Wall Shoulder Presses
Post menopausal woman doing wall shoulder press
  • Feet Supported Dips
Post menopausal woman doing feet supported dips

For upper-body pull exercises, choose between the following:

  • Bent Over Rows with weight
Post menopausal woman doing bent over rows
  • Band Pull Aparts
Post menopausal woman doing band pull apparts
  • Bent Over Reverse Flys
Post menopausal woman doing bent over W's

Core

Finally, for core exercises, you can do the following:

  • Plank
Post menopausal woman doing plank
  • Side Plank
Post menopausal woman doing side plank
  • Reverse Crunches
Post menopausal woman doing reverse crunch

Here are two example workouts you can try:

Workout 1

Push Ups2 sets of 8 repetitions
Bent Over Rows3 sets of 10 repetitions
Lunges2 sets of 6 repetitions on each leg
Plank3 sets of 20 seconds

Workout 2

Wall Shoulder Press2 sets of 8 repetitions
Band Pull Aparts3 sets of 15 repetitions
Single Leg Deadlifts2 sets of 6 repetitions on each leg
Reverse Crunch3 sets of 10 repetitions

Workout 3

Aerobic activity20-30 minutes
Kegels5 sets of 10 repetitions

Other Related Questions

What Are The Benefits Of Exercise During Menopause?

Exercise in menopause can help maintain bone density, preserve muscle mass, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Unfortunately, the natural decline in estrogen levels during menopause means that the body is more susceptible to bone fractures, muscle loss, and weight gain.

Here are all the benefits exercise might provide:

Is Walking Good For Menopause?

Yes, walking is an excellent form of exercise during menopause as it is low impact and can reduce the risk of bone fracture.

Walking also helps improve circulation and can help reduce stress and anxiety.

If you don’t regularly walk, it is best to start slow and gradually increase the intensity and length of each walk.

Also, remember to wear comfortable shoes!

Does Exercise Increase Estrogen?

No, exercise does not directly increase estrogen in menopause.

Estrogen is a hormone produced primarily by the ovaries in response to follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH to ovulate an egg each month. In menopause, you are no longer stimulating follicles or ovulating.

Although exercise does not directly increase estrogen levels, it can help reduce symptoms of low estrogens, such as hot flashes and night sweats.

What Is The Best Exercise For A Menopause Belly?

The best way to get rid of belly fat during menopause is to combine resistance training with cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet.

Strength training helps build muscle mass which raises your metabolic rate, making it easier to lose weight.

Cardiovascular exercises such as running or cycling can help burn extra calories while improving heart health.

Lastly, eating a healthy diet will help you reduce your caloric intake while improving your nutrient intake.

You can also do core-specific exercises such as:

  • Planks
  • Side planks
  • Bird Dogs
  • Boat pose
  • Hollow body hold

But keep in mind, it is not possible to spot reduce fat from your belly.

Is There A Specific Diet I Should Eat?

During menopause and beyond, it is best to eat a well-balanced diet that helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Your nutrition plan should include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Do your best to avoid added sugars which can increase the risk of weight gain and chronic diseases.

If weight loss is your goal, you must also monitor your portion sizes and reduce your energy intake.

Final Words on Weight Training in Menopause

Regular exercise (especially strength training) is essential for menopausal women.

Research shows that physical activity can help

  • reduce menopause symptoms,
  • improve sleep quality and mood,
  • build muscle mass,
  • protect bone health,
  • and improve quality of life!

Plus, you could strength train in the comfort of your home with free weights and resistance bands. You could even perform bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups.

Now I want to hear from you.

What type of exercise do you find most beneficial when dealing with the changes your body is experiencing?

Let me know in the comments.

Other Related Posts:


Get Four Free Workouts To Help Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor & Heal Your Mommy Tummy!


brittany-robles

Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness, expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.



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References:

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  2. Stojanovska L, Apostolopoulos V, Polman R, Borkoles E. To exercise, or, not to exercise, during menopause and beyond. Maturitas. 2014 Apr;77(4):318-23. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.01.006. Epub 2014 Jan 24. PMID: 24548848.