Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life, marking the end of her reproductive years. While this transition brings about various changes, it’s essential to pay special attention to your heart health during this time. Hormonal fluctuations can affect your heart health, making it crucial to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.
The American Heart Association (AHA) offers some tips for protecting that most critical organ while hormone levels and body composition change.
“More women in the U.S. are living longer, and a significant portion of them will spend up to 40% of their lives postmenopausal,” according to Brooke Aggarwal, an assistant professor in cardiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.
“Navigating through menopause isn’t one-size-fits-all, and neither is the journey to good heart health,” adds Aggarwal, a volunteer for AHA’s Go Red for Women movement.
“This makes it even more important to focus on heart and brain health at all stages of life,” she said in an AHA news release.
1. Stay Active
Regular physical activity is a key component of maintaining good heart health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Activities like walking, swimming, or dancing are excellent choices. Exercise can help control weight, reduce stress, and lower the risk of heart disease.
Strength and resistance training, endurance, balance and flexibility also make for a well-rounded routine. Strength and resistance have the added benefit of increasing bone strength and muscle mass, according to the AHA. As women enter menopause, their bone density is affected. Body composition tends to shift to lower muscle mass. Strength training at least twice a week can help both bones and muscles.
2. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
During menopause, your metabolism may slow down, making it easier to gain weight. Focus on a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit your intake of saturated fats, sodium, and processed foods. Omega-3 fatty acids from sources like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts can be particularly beneficial for heart health.
Both the DASH and Mediterranean types of eating plans have the most heart-healthy elements. They are high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, healthy fat and lean protein. They’re also low in salt, sugar, alcohol and processed foods.
3. Monitor Your Cholesterol
Menopause can lead to changes in your cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of heart disease. Have your cholesterol checked regularly and discuss your results with your healthcare provider. If needed, consider medication or dietary changes to manage your cholesterol levels effectively.
4. Manage Stress
Menopause can be a stressful time for many women. High-stress levels can negatively impact your