What are reasonable goals for physical activity during menopause?

For most healthy women, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends both aerobic activity and strength training. Strive for:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week — preferably spread throughout the week
  • Strength training exercises at least twice a week

For motivation, set realistic, achievable goals. Rather than vowing to exercise more, for example, commit to a daily 30-minute walk after dinner. Frequently update your goals. Teaming up with someone — such as a partner, friend or neighbor — can make a difference, too.

What are the best physical activities to try?

When you're ready to get started, you have many choices. Consider:

  • Aerobic activity. Aerobic activity is the cornerstone of most fitness programs. Try brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming or water aerobics. Any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases your heart rate counts. If you're a beginner, start with 10 minutes of light activity a day and gradually increase both the intensity and duration of your activity.
  • Strength training. Regular strength training can help you reduce body fat, strengthen your muscles and more efficiently burn calories. Try weight machines, hand-held weights or resistance tubing. Choose a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 repetitions. Gradually increase the resistance level as you get stronger.
  • Stretching. Stretching can help improve flexibility. Set aside time to stretch after each workout, when your muscles are warm and receptive to stretching.
  • Stability and balance. Balance exercises improve stability and can help prevent falls. Try simple exercises, such as sideways walking. Activities such as tai chi also can be helpful.

Remember, you don't have to go to the gym to exercise. Many activities, such as dancing, gardening and other yardwork, also can improve your health. Whatever physical activities you choose, take time to warm up and cool down safely.

Jun. 12, 2013 See more In-depth