Lifestyle factors and the menopause
Smoking and alcohol
Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your general health. Women going through the menopause should be aware that smoking can increase the risk of health issues associated with this life stage, such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, and the likelihood of experiencing menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and headaches. Smokers also tend to start the menopause up to 2 years earlier than non-smokers. Get help and advice on stopping smoking by reading this NHS article.
Adults of all ages are recommended to consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, with several alcohol-free days each week. It is particularly important during and after the menopause for women to be aware of their alcohol intake as drinking too much can impact negatively on bone health, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and trigger menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and headaches.
Being physically active during and after the menopause can help to manage menopause symptoms such as psychological problems (such as anxiety and depression), weight gain, sleep disturbances and hot flushes.
Being physically active will also help your bone health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, both of which are health problems associated with the menopause.
Weight bearing exercises, such as brisk walking, tennis, running, dancing or climbing stairs, and resistant exercises, such as press-ups and using weights, are particularly good for your bones.
Aerobic activity is important for heart health; moderate activity should raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer and vigorous activity should make you breathe hard and fast.
Adults should try to do:
- at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week PLUS muscle strengthening activities on 2 days or more of the week.
- OR 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity PLUS muscle strengthening activities on 2 days or more of the week.
- OR a combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, one 30-minute run and one 30-minute fitness class, plus 30 minutes of fast walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity PLUS muscle strengthening activities on 2 days or more of the week.
Find out more about this topic by reading our pages on keeping active.
Information reviewed November 2016
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Please note that advice provided on our website about nutrition and health is general in nature. We do not provide any personal advice on prevention, treatment and management for patients or their family members.