Are You Fit for Menopause?

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September is National Menopause Awareness Month, and many women find themselves packing on the pounds at the onset of menopause symptoms. Lifelong "skinny people" might find themselves gaining weight, seemingly unable to keep the pounds off. But there are ways to control the so-called middle-age spread. Women's bodies do change as they go through the change of life, but weight gain doesn't have to be inevitable.

Hormones start fluctuating as early as the mid-30s for many women, and by 50, the average menopause age, women start to experience symptoms such as anxiety, depression, hot flashes, sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. But exercise and the right diet can relieve many of these conditions. And menopause may not be what's causing weight gain. A lack of energy might decrease activity for menopause-aged women, and researchers believe menopause may increase appetite, leading to a calorie increase. As we age, we experience muscle loss and therefore don't burn calories like we used to.