The Best Type Of Exercises To Do During Menopause

A health coach gets real about the importance of strength training.
Illustrations of women doing four different exercises—from left, squats, shoulder presses, push ups and dead lifts. These are strength training exercises recommended during menopause. (Illustrations: Nicole Rifkin)

“If there’s any time in your life when you should exercise, it’s during menopause,” says Samantha Montpetit-Huynh, a Toronto-based online health coach who specializes in training midlife women. More specifically, she’s referring to functional strength training—exercises that will help you do real-life stuff better, whether it’s hoisting your luggage into the overhead bin or lowering yourself into a pool.

All adults start losing muscle mass around the age of 30, but the hormonal ebbs and flows of menopause accelerate this loss. The less muscle we have, the fewer calories we burn, which contributes to another effect of menopause: weight gain.

While strength training can lead to weight loss, that’s not the ultimate goal. “The focus is on managing stress, moving better, sleeping better and feeling more confident,” says Montpetit-Huynh. She recommends three 30-minute full-body strength workouts—using heavy weights—a week, with one to two full days of rest between each. “When you prioritize rest and recovery, you really gain,” she says. “I only go into the gym three days a week now, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.” Here are four functional exercises she recommends to all of her midlife clients.

An illustration of a woman doing a squat. (Illustration: Nicole Rifkin)

1. The squat Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes very slightly turned out. Shift your weight back into your heels and tighten your core. Keeping your chest lifted and looking straight ahead, lower your hips down and back. Keep your knees over your toes; go no lower than thighs parallel to the ground. Press down into your heels to return to a standing position.

An illustration of a woman doing a shoulder press. (Illustration: Nicole Rifkin)

2. The shoulder press Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees soft, elbows bent and hands at ear height, holding weights in both hands. Extend both arms overhead and slightly in front of you, keeping your core tight and your shoulders back. Return to starting position.

An illustration of a woman doing a push-up. (Illustration: Nicole Rifkin)

3. The push-up Start on your toes or your knees in a plank position with your arms straight and slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart. Slowly lower your body until your chest hovers just above the ground. Avoid sinking your hips, and don’t stick your butt out. Return to plank position.

An illustration of a woman doing a deadlift (Illustration: Nicole Rifkin)

4. The dead lift Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes very slightly turned out, holding weights in both hands. Push your butt back and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat, and slide the dumbbells along the front of your legs until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your legs. Keeping your back flat and core engaged, push your hips forward and return to standing position.


Subscribe to our newsletters for our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.