Can I improve fitness after menopause without joining a gym?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
YES!! You don’t have to join a gym to improve your fitness. All you need is your body. Treadmills, exercise bikes, and barbells are all optional. Your workout can be very low-tech. I bet if you start walking around your neighborhood, you’ll find a fitness friend who will walk with you or give you some at-home tips. Many malls have walking programs and you can even go before the stores open. You may even enjoy some benefits to the program like a shopping discount. 
Yes.  Menopause creates its own set of limits and circumstances but fitness can always be enhanced and improved.  If you would like to lose body fat you still have to cut caloric intake and increase out go.  If you want to be in better cardiovascular shape you still have to train aerobically on a consistent and regular basis.  If you want to be stronger you still have to overload the muscles in smart ways through resistance training.  The good news is all the rules still apply.  Is your body different post menopause then it is pre menopause of course it is but fitness doesn't have to be sacrificed.

As women age, attention to daily physical activity will improve health and wellness. An active lifestyle doesn't require joining a gym or working out complicated routines. Focusing on physical activity can be as simple as gardening or raking leaves. A daily morning walk or bike ride are also good options.

Absolutely!  One doesn't need a gym to improve fitness.  While the cardio and strength equipment at the gym is handy, it's not necessary.  You can improve cardio fitness by walking, running, swimming, biking, or playing your favorite active sports.  Strength training can be done at home with your body weight (think pushups, squats, planks,), free weights, or my favorites the TRX suspension trainer and elastic tubing.  Menopause, like puberty is a change, but it doesn't mean you can't improve fitness.
Most definitely! Fitness can be improved without a gym and can be more fun.  There are all sorts of activities that can be done like hiking, biking, swimming, and jogging to name a few.  Strength training is best improved by using your bodies own weight as resistance.  Push-ups are great but can be intimidating. Start by doing them placing the hands on the edge of the kitchen table or a counter to reduce the strain on the lower back.   Once this gets easier, use a chair or stairs if they are available. Cycle your breathing with the exercise. Squats can be done without weight or hold a 5 pound bag of potatoes.  Planks are awesome to strengthen the core muscles (abdominals, back, and lower pelvic muscles).  This can strain the lower back so start on your elbows and knees ensuring to keep your body straight as a board and elbows directly below your shoulders.  Home fitness possibilities are endless!

Absolutely. Machines at the gym mimic activity you do outside - they just allow you to do it in a smaller space. As mentioned above, walking, biking, swimming, gardening, are all things you can do outside of a gym - walking being the most accessible in almost any area. Add wrist weights and ankle weights, or flex bands into your walking routine and you’ll improve your strength as well as build bone density which tends to decline after menopause. The important thing is to stay active!

Of course you can. A gym is one of many tools at your disposal. Find an enjoyable walking route or two and get walking. Chances are if you’re feeling like you need to get moving, some of your friends are too. Invite someone to join you.

Swimming is a great workout. If you work, the lap lane at lunch time is perfect and refreshing. Water aerobics is great exercise and fun.

There’s bike riding around town or out in the woods.  

There are countless numbers of body weight exercises you can use to increase muscular strength. Just get moving.

Pick out the things you enjoy or think you might enjoy. Just get moving.

Sit down and do nothing and you are done for. Get up and get moving.

Yes! There are several successful fitness and wellness opportunities and videos for menopausal women.  Many women have personal trainers, joined wellness classes and walking clubs or work out at home, etc. The gym is only one of many options for fitness. Check your local fitness programs and check with your doctor about how to start on your fitness level.  

Yes you can! Start by walking it's free and you can enjoy the outdoors. When walking outside isn't suitable you can choose indoor walking through malls or even school gymnasiums. I also recommend resistance bands, they are an inexpensive way to gain strength and come with instructions on the many the ways to use them.

Sadie Lincoln
Sadie Lincoln on behalf of barre3

Absolutely! A steady fitness practice has many benefits, especially when one is going through the many changes menopause can inflict. A gym is not the only place you can exercise, so don't feel obligated to join one if it isn't realistic for your lifestyle. Depending on where you live, you probably have many options to take classes that can help to improve your fitness level. Yoga can be a great, low impact way to exercise and help to develop strength and endurance. At barre3 we are big fans of walking. A brisk 30 minute walk outside is a great way to stay in shape and can be a wonderful mood enhancer. You also have many options to exercise in the comfort of your own home, from DVD's to stationary machinery there are a lot of ways to fit exercise into your lifestyle. The key is finding methods of exercise you like and to commit to doing them a few times a week. Try a few different options and see what sticks!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.