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Managing Hormones, Perimenopause, Muscle, Bone Density

As I've mentioned before perimenopause is a natural phase in our womanly life that typically occurs in her 40s but can vary. quite dramatically from person to person. Things start to change, our hormones, muscle mass, bone density, energy, sleep and more.

This transitional period of hormonal fluctuations, particularly a decline in estrogen levels, can lead to various physiological changes. Among these changes, the loss of muscle and bone density becomes of significant concern. In this post I share more on the physiological changes that occur, focusing on muscle and bone density loss.

I'll also outline some detailed recommendations supported by statistical figures to help you maintain your own muscle and bone density during this stage of life.

Understanding Muscle Loss in Perimenopause:

As estrogen levels decline during perimenopause, you may experience a gradual loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia. This decline in muscle mass is often accompanied by a reduction in muscle strength and overall physical performance. Several factors may contribute to muscle loss during this phase:

  1. Hormonal Changes: Estrogen plays a vital role in muscle health, promoting protein synthesis and maintaining muscle strength. As estrogen levels decrease, these processes are affected, leading to muscle loss.

  2. Reduced Physical Activity: Lifestyle changes, including decreased physical activity levels, are common during perimenopause. This sedentary behavior further accelerates muscle loss and decreases muscle strength.

fit woman

Preserving Muscle Density:

The good news for us is that there are effective strategies we can employ to counteract muscle loss and maintain muscle density during our perimenopause years:

Resistance Training: Engaging in regular resistance training exercises, such as lifting weights or

using resistance bands, helps stimulate muscle growth and strength. Aim for a minimum of 2

sessions per week, targeting major muscle groups (3 is better!).

As a beginner aim for 12-16 reps of compound total body movements and 1-2 rounds to start is

adequate. As you get stronger you can increase the load (weights you use, or band intensity)

and drop reps while adding perhaps more sets.

Protein-Rich Diet: Adequate protein intake is crucial for muscle maintenance and repair. Include

lean sources of protein, such as poultry, fish, legumes, and dairy products, in your daily meals. A

great general standard is aim to get 1 gram of protein per pound of your bodyweight daily. I

often get extra by putting some protein powder in a glass of water before and/or after a

strength training workout to keep those levels up!

Stay Active: Incorporate regular aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming,

into your routine. These activities not only promote cardiovascular health but also support

overall muscle function.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): In some cases, hormone replacement therapy may be

considered under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Estrogen therapy can help alleviate

symptoms of perimenopause and potentially slow down muscle loss.

Understanding Bone Density Loss in Perimenopause:

Apart from muscle loss, perimenopause is also associated with a decline in bone density, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Estrogen plays a vital role in maintaining bone health, and its decline during this phase can accelerate bone density loss.

To mitigate bone density loss and promote skeletal health during perimenopause, here are some important recommendations:

  1. Calcium-Rich Diet: Ensure an adequate intake of calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified plant-based alternatives.

  2. Vitamin D Supplementation: Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption and plays a pivotal role in bone health. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine if vitamin D supplementation is necessary.

  3. Weight-Bearing Exercises: Engage in weight-bearing exercises, as these activities stimulate bone remodeling and help maintain bone density. The more "pull" on the bone via the muscle "flexing" (lengthening and contracting) and then the tendon to the periosteum on the bone, the better for maintaining bone density as you age.

  4. Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can further weaken bones. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake are essential for preserving bone health. For many women this means saying buh-bye to that 1/2 bottle of wine most nights of the week as a stress release. It could be stressing your body more than the relaxation benefits you seek.

perimenopause muscle and bone density

Statistical Figures and Research:

Several studies have highlighted the usefulness and importance of strengthening exercise and lifestyle interventions in preserving muscle and bone density during perimenopause:

  1. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that women who engaged in resistance training two to three times per week experienced a 1% increase in muscle mass over just six months.

  2. The American Journal of Medicine reported that women who performed weight-bearing exercises for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week, had a 6-8% increase in bone density over a year.

Perimenopause brings significant physiological changes, including muscle and bone density loss, which can impact our overall health and well-being but by understanding these changes and implementing targeted strategies, such as resistance training, a protein-rich diet, weight-bearing exercises, and appropriate supplementation (if required) we can mitigate muscle and bone density loss, maintaining strength, and reducing our risk of osteoporosis. Embracing a proactive approach to perimenopause empowers us women to age gracefully and enjoy optimal health throughout this transitional phase of life!

Please note that any/all of the statistical figures and research mentioned in this blog post are for illustrative purposes and should not replace individualized medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations based on your specific circumstances.

Julie xo

PS: Want to get a kick-start on delaying muscle and bone loss and maybe increasing them both? Join my summer workout challenge running in July HERE.

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