Could High Intensity Interval Training be the answer for menopausal weight gain?
I have many patients complain to me about an increase in weight during and after the menopause. I still don’t know if this is due to the menopause itself, or due to a gradual lowering of the metabolic rate over the years (mostly due to an increase in sedentary behaviour). I’m looking into it as it’s a common and important issue. I came across this short YouTube video made by an exercise scientist talking about her research on whether High Intensity Interval training can help with menopausal weight gain.
High Intensity Interval Training is hot at the moment, with research flooding in on how effective it is at burning fat and increasing fitness. Both of which are desirable after the menopause, with the spectre of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (that’s heart attacks and strokes) in the post-menopausal years. Additionally, improving aerobic fitness may decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes, independent of weight loss.
HIIT is an efficient, fun and safe way to lose weight and improve fitness. Studies have shown that it is better than low-intensity continuous exercise in these regards (low-intensity exercise being walking, jogging at a moderate pace etc). In my opinion, HIIT is also sustainable as it is a low-volume exercise – that means you spend less time doing it for the same, if not more, gain as low intensity exercise. Now I know for a fact that the vast majority of midlife women are extremely busy. Most of you work and have family responsibilities on several levels – kids, partner, ageing parents. You’re time-poor and need an efficient solution. Why not try HIIT?
A great way to start is to use a timer like Seven (30 second intervals and 10 seconds rest) or various Tabata timers (20 second intervals and 10 seconds rest). Download these for your smartphone. You can then perform various high-intensity exercises at home such as pushups, planks, sprinting on the spot, tricep dips and squat jumps etc using the timer. The Seven app takes you through the exercises, or you could go to the FitMum website for sample workouts. You’ll learn a whole heap of new ways to work out including the Burpee, Mountain Climbers, Squat Thrusts and more… Twenty minutes may be all you need – but make sure you’re working at about 80-90% of maximum intensity. (You will be, trust me! It will make you sweat – and smile!)
Give it a go, keep it up (aim for 20-30 minutes five times a week) and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’d love to hear how you all went, so feel free to comment below or on the Facebook page :)