According to a review published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, women in their fifties and sixties gain an average of 1.5 pounds a year due to hormonal changes, and other effects of aging. Weight gain in midlife is a contributing factor in an array of chronic conditions including arthritis, mood disorders, and certain cancers. In addition, fat accumulation at this time of life tends to occur around the mid-section, a distribution pattern closely linked to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. To help mitigate the health risks associated with postmenopausal weight gain, Mayo Clinic researchers released the following guidelines for women in midlife:
- Reduce calories. While diet options abound and their health benefits vary, the researchers recommend finding a calorie-restricted diet that’s easy to follow. They advise reducing daily caloric intake by 500 to 750 calories, which, according to the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Obesity Society (ACA/AHA), should result in an average weight loss of 0.5 to 0.75 kg, or 1 to 1.5 pounds, per week.
- Increase physical activity. Maintaining or increasing physical activity after menopause can help mitigate weight gain. Paired with calorie restriction, increasing physical activity is more likely to result in sustained weight reduction than calorie restriction or increasing physical activity alone. To promote weight loss, the ACA/AHA recommends 150 to 175 minutes of brisk walking or similar aerobic exercise per week. Strength training is also recommended to increase lean body mass, which can boost calorie burning and reduce mid-section fat.
- Ask for help. Weight management can often require making tricky lifestyle adjustments. Getting support through individual or group counseling can help you identify and overcome barriers to making those changes.
- Stop weight regain. Despite best efforts, many find weight maintenance challenging. Weight loss can reduce baseline energy expenditure, making it easier to regain weight. Working with a behavioral counselor and raising your physical activity level to 200 to 300 minutes per week can help prevent weight regain.
It’s important to see a healthcare practitioner with any questions or concerns about weight gain. They can help you develop a personalized health regimen and may screen for conditions such as depression, sleep disorders, and stress, which could interfere with your ability to stick to a weight maintenance or weight loss program. They may also recommend hormone therapies or weight loss medications depending on your health history.
Source: Mayo Clinic Proceedings