Weight gain is ‘very common side effect’ to menopause – how to ‘manage your waistline’

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The menopause effects middle-aged women and can be one of the reasons why they are more likely to put weight on compared to younger women. Pharmacist Melanie King spoke to Express.co.uk about why the menopause can be a contributor to weight gain and what women can do to slim.

Melanie King from Pharmacy2U explained what the menopause can do to the female body, saying: “Weight gain is a very common side effect of the menopause.

“It is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age.

“When the menopause does start, the body produces less reproductive hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – and this changes how energy is used and stored as fat cells, amongst other things.”

A change in hormones, but also a change in metabolism, can lead to weight gain.

Melanie continued: “As we get older our metabolic rate, or the rate at which we burn energy in the body, tends to slow down.

“Muscle uses more energy, compared to fat, so as women lose muscle mass as part of ageing, they can start to put on weight because of this combined effect.”

The pharmacist went on to note what women can do to avoid or reduce weight gain, saying: “The first approach should always be to limit your calorie intake, and exercise more.

“As well as helping you to manage your waistline, exercise relieves stress by triggering the release of ‘happy’ hormones and can improve some of the other menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes.

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“Exercise can also help with sleeping and can also help strengthen bones to reduce the risk of fractures.

“The NHS guidelines for adults recommend at least 150 minutes in total of moderate intensity exercise a week, including activities like a brisk 30-minute walk, or a bike ride to the shops and back.

“Activities that help to strengthen and build muscle mass, like yoga or Pilates, are great alternatives if you’re not keen on the gym or traditional fitness classes.”

Any exercise is beneficial for the both body and mind, therefore finding one that you enjoy is the best way to go about it – this ensures consistency, which more easily leads to weight loss.

The NHS suggests that even a brisk 10-minute walk can help beginner dieters lose weight.

It can help build stamina and the time can be increased each day.

Walking for approximately one mile burns around 100 calories, and on average, should only take around 20 minutes.

It is also an inexpensive activity and can be easily squeezed into your day.

Melanie added that women going through the menopause and who are worried about its side effects should not be afraid to seek help.

She said: “If you are struggling with weight gain during or after menopause, talk to your GP or pharmacist, who will be able to offer advice on what additional support is available.”

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51.

Its symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, low mood or anxiety, reduced libido, and problems with memory and concentration.

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