PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With the change of life, women stop having their periods, but also, they might start gaining weight. A local researcher is looking at what types of activities will keep post-menopausal women active for the long run, for a better weight and better health.

Up again, and down again, Peg Schmidt has gained about 50 pounds through menopause.

“With life and kids and everything else, you slow down. And then with change of life, you seem to come to a screeching halt,” Schmidt said.

She has tried Weight Watchers, support groups, and exercising on her own, but just can’t stick with it.

An ad on Craig’s List about a study looking at exercise adherence caught her eye.

The study randomly assigns women to one of three groups: one that does brisk walking, one that does the video game “Dance, Dance, Revolution,” one that has to wait six months, but can then choose any combination of walking and dancing.

The post-menopausal group is of interest because of the challenges that come with the change of life.

“Your metabolism changes, you tend to lose bone and gain fat, especially in the middle,” Dr. Stephanie Studenski of the UPMC Benedum Geriatric Center said.  “Trends to have worse problems with blood pressure and blood sugar control.”

At first, the women are closely supervised with weekly visits. After three months, they have to exercise on their own.

“Once I was on my own, I really started slipping and I found out that in fact, it is much harder for me to maintain a routine because my daily life doesn’t have a routine,” Schmidt said.

“We’re interested in whether people keep exercising after we remove some of the structure,” Dr. Studenski said.

They’ll also be watching what happens to blood pressure, blood sugar, body fat and muscle, strength, endurance and concentraton.

“We find that some women really like walking, some women really like dancing, and we’re interested in what it is about different women that makes some choices better for them than others,” Dr. Studenski said.

Schmidt was assigned to the dance group.

“You’re supposed to do it at least 150 minutes a week, and you can break it up however you’d like to. I like to do typically 45 minutes at least at a time, because that’s easier for me. I work up a sweat, I don’t want to do that two or three times a day,” Schmidt said.

Even though she hasn’t lost weight and only maintained, Schmidt is convinced she’ll go on dancing.

“For somebody who has rhythm, because I think you need to have rhythm to be able to do this, and likes music, then I think it’s actually a good way to exercise and have fun,’ Schmidt said.

Dr. Studenski is still looking for 60 more patients to enroll. You have to be in menopause and not regularly exercising now. And your body mass index has to be greater than 25.

Click here for more information or call (412)-692-2331.


Pittsburgh Pepper Older Americans Independence Center
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