Friday, August 5, 2016

Menopause Weigth Gain is Not Your Fault!

As women enter menopause, their levels of physical activity decrease; for years scientists were unable to determine why. Now, researchers have found a connection between lack of ovarian hormones and changes in the brain's reward center for activity.

A study involved two groups of rats - one highly fit and one low fitness level. The highly fit group showed more activity in the brain's pleasure center with greater wheel running. After the loss of ovarian hormones, the highly fit rats saw a significant reduction in activity correlating to a significant reduction in their dopamine signaling levels. In both groups, the hormonal changes led to changes in the brain that translated to less physical activity. The findings confirm previous evidence in humans and rats that weight gain occurring after menopause is likely due to decreased overall physical activity rather than increased energy intake from diet.

Activation of brain receptors in that part of the brain may serve as a future treatment to improve motivation for physical activity in postmenopausal women. But until then, what coping methods do we have to combat this trend? Activate that reward center of your brain in these different ways.

Choose physical activity you enjoy
Play a sport. Take up a new one!
Run with the kids at the playground. Ditch the park bench.
Garden with manual tools - no power!
Hike in the outdoors - savor nature.
Swim in the ocean. Enjoy the salty breeze.

Choose to do something active daily
Make non-negotiable activity "appointments".
Create a habit that doesn't require daily choice.
Enjoy a different activity every day.

Choose activity with a partner or group
Meeting a friend keeps you accountable.
Talking while exercising makes it seem to fly by faster.
Join a class for accountability and social connection.

Understanding the physical interaction between our brains and our hormones can give us information to make meaningful changes as we journey through this season of life.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

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