Thursday, March 25, 2010

Weight Gain in Menopause

"women and men may be closer in size than the males and females of some other great apes not because men have been freed of the selective pressure toward enlarged body size but because women have been under some pressure to become fairly large themselves. Assuming that women have been selected for enhanced longevity - a long life after menopause - it helps to have a respectable body mass to persist through the decades. Large animals generally live longer than small animals. Many factors besides lifespan influence the evolution of a female's body size, including habitat, method of locomtion, diet and the demands of pregnancy and lactation....but it is possible that in the triangulating, negotiatingt process of adaptive change, women's physiology has seen a modest thrust toward maximizing body size while still remaining with the developmental constraints of reproductive demands. 

Afer all,women are the second largest female primates on the planet, bested only female gorillas who weigh an average of 185 pounds, compared to our nonobese norm of 125-130 pounds. Women are bigger than female orangutans, who weigh less than 100 pounds an dconsiderably bigger than female chimpanzees or bonobos. By comparison, men, with their standard weight of 160 pounds are much smaller than male gorillas, and smaller too than male organutans who average 200 poundes.

....what I am doing is offering grist for the argument that women need muscle mass more than men do, and that ... we must take the hint and make the most of our long-lived vessel. We need muscle....we have an extraordinary capacity for strength, the more impressive given our comparatively low levels of testosterone....Women are workhhorses in most of the developing world (carrying loads on ther heads or backs for miles and miles).  If the world's women went on strike, the world of work would effectively stop...."

The gist of her argument is that.. in the West, longevity has increased while the need for physical strength has declined. We are living longer....and we need muscle more than ever to protect our health. If we exchange muscle for fat as we age, we having nothing to shield our bones and weather illness.

fascinating book, by Natalie Angier, Woman, An Intimate Geography,


Jennifer West said...

It would be great if that happens! If women get the chance to read that book, I think they will do their best just to be physically stronger. No one wants to be called "weak", especially these days that everybody's striving for survival. One easy way to gain muscles is to exercise. It's a good thing to do even after the menopausal stage. It actually reduces hot flashes too! Exercise has many benefits!

Chelsea Leis said...

Anyone would definitely want to live longer. Even if the demand for physical strength has declined, it doesn't mean that you can relax. You still need to work your way to getting that long life. As Jennifer said, no one wants to be called "weak" in this world where the law of nature reigns supreme. Survival of the fittest!


blogflux list of blogs about menopause

Directory of Women Blogs