Can Too Much Cardio Backfire During Menopause?

Going through menopause can be a confusing and overwhelming experience for many women. With hormone levels fluctuating, the body undergoes numerous changes that can impact a woman's health and well-being. One significant concern women may have during menopause is how physical activity affects their bodies. While we all know that exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, it’s essential to pay attention to the type and amount of exercise we do. 

There are several reasons why too much cardio may backfire during menopause, and a recent study confirms this. So, let's delve into this topic further, shall we?

Menopause can bring several changes to a woman's body. One significant change is a decline in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that helps preserve muscle mass, including the heart. The decline of estrogen levels during menopause increases the risk of heart disease, which is why exercising is essential to maintain your cardiovascular health. However, according to a recent study conducted by the European Heart Journal, too much cardio can have detrimental effects on a postmenopausal woman. The study revealed that women who engaged in excessive cardio exercises had a higher risk of developing heart disease than those who did moderate exercise.

Strenuous exercises like running marathons and intense spinning classes can elevate cortisol, a stress hormone that can lead to inflammation, which can cause damage to the lining of the blood vessels, leading to a higher risk of heart disease. In contrast, moderate-intensity activities like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga can lower cortisol levels and benefit cardiovascular health. Women going through menopause should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

Too much cardio can lead to another problem, which is muscle wasting. As a woman ages, her muscle mass decreases, putting her at risk of many health problems like falls, fractures, and decreased mobility. Excessive cardio can lead to the loss of muscle mass and lower bone density. Maintaining muscle mass is critical during menopause, as it can help prevent those health problems. Resistance training is a great option for preserving muscle mass; it involves lifting weights, using resistance bands, or doing bodyweight exercises.

Sleep disturbances are common among postmenopausal women, and too much cardio can worsen this problem. The sleep hormone melatonin plays a crucial role in regulating sleep. High-intensity exercise can lower melatonin levels, leading to sleep disturbances. A study conducted by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that resistance training helped postmenopausal women sleep better than cardio exercise.

In conclusion, exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but too much of anything can backfire. Women going through menopause should avoid excessive cardio exercises and focus on moderate-intensity activities that can benefit their cardiovascular health. Furthermore, incorporating resistance training into your weekly routine can help preserve muscle mass and bone density. Lastly, getting adequate sleep during menopause is crucial for maintaining overall well-being.

Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of different types of exercises can empower you to make informed choices that support your health and wellness as you age. As a fitness coach and former gym owner, this has been my way of life for many years. If you are unsure of where to start, reach out and let's chat. I want to help you!