One of the simplest strength training moves is actually the best for fighting off anxiety during postmenopause.

Women of all sizes can do this exercise!

Do not let the simplicity of this particular strength training exercise—which I will tell you about shortly—fool you into thinking it won’t crush the anxiety that’s associated with postmenopause.

The Anxiety of Postmenopause

Anxiety is associated with postmenopause, but it’s not clear what comes first: postmenopause causing anxiety or anxiety exacerbating common postmenopause symptoms like hot flashes.

Either way, anxiety stinks.

Physical symptoms of postmenopause were significantly more pronounced in women with anxiety when compared to postmenopausal women without anxiety, says a study that appears on the journal Menopause (Jan. 2017).

Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, who was involved with this study, advises that relaxation techniques, cutting back on caffeine and adding exercise be done as treatments.

There is no study that shows what the best exercise is for combating the anxiety that’s associated with postmenopause.

  • Yoga enthusiasts will recommend yoga.
  • Hiking enthusiasts will recommend scenic hikes.
  • Zumba participants will recommend Zumba.
  • Women who love strength training will recommend picking up dumbbells and barbells.

I’m a former personal trainer and recommend as “the best” anti-anxiety exercise one that ANY woman of ANY fitness level can do: the deadlift.

If you want to pursue yoga, cycling, jogging, Pilates or Zumba, go do so. But add the deadlift. The deadlift, unlike Zumba, many yoga poses and Pilates moves, can be done on the VERY FIRST TRY.

The overweight older woman who can’t even jog down her street can do a deadlift with a barbell on her first try.

DEADLIFT – the simplest strength training move in that it does NOT require:

• Unnatural body positions

• Embarrassing body positions

• Balancing on one foot

• ANY balancing for that matter

• Uncomfortable stretching

• Awkward movements with the feet

Goodness, with the deadlift you stand in one spot. Your feet never move. And you do what you’ve been doing since childhood: bending over to pick something up from the ground.


So why do I think the deadlift is the best exercise for fighting off the anxiety that’s linked to postmenopause?

I’m postmenopausal. Being able to lift heavy things off the ground is an invaluable skill.

• I’ve used it to lift my mother, unable to get up on her own, from the floor after severe syncope episodes.

• I’ve used it to pick up a German shepherd, sick with cancer, off the ground and place him in a car.

• I once used it to load my father’s 53-pound bag of luggage into the trunk. And remove it.

• That “call of duty” will always come unexpectedly, and I know I can always fulfill that call – or most of them, anyways.

The deadlift won’t prevent anxiety. For instance, you may be frequently worried about your very elderly parents; that anxiety will always be there.

But there’s other triggers of anxiety that can be wiped as you progress with this potent strength training move.

And sometimes, feelings of anxiety persist without any triggers. This is called free-floating anxiety.

Benefits of the Deadlift

• Works the entire body in a single move!

• You get a lot of bang for your buck.

• Hits the core.

• Helps firm the booty.

• Strengthens the grip.

• Freakin’ strengthens bones.

• Because so many muscles get worked at once, it burns a lot of calories and, over time, will start reshaping your body.

• Well by the time you’re deadlifting 95 pounds for repetitions, you will have noticed how much easier the activities of daily living are – if you’ve been hampered by muscle strains and “aches and pains” after doing housework, taking care of your grandkids for a few hours, tending to your garden, etc.

• And nothing quashes anxiety like knowing you can pick a heavy barbell off the floor. Man, I can’t say this enough.

Shutterstock/ SerdyukPhotography

Once you hit that milestone – deadlifting 100 pounds, something inside you ignites. Before you know it, you’ll be deadlifting the next big milestone: 135 pounds.

This is a big milestone because it’s the weight of an “Olympic bar” plus the two heaviest weight plates in any gym. Standard weight plates go up to 45 pounds each. So 45 x 3 = 135.

If you’ve always felt weak and out of shape, flabby and vulnerable, you certainly won’t be feeling this way when you load an Olympic bar with a 45-pounder on each side, then deadlift it for reps!

Though you may still be cursed with situational anxiety (e.g., caring for aging parents, job stress, unexpected bills, paying off debt), you’ll find that becoming accomplished with the deadlift will reduce OVERALL anxiety – including the kind that just lingers for no good reason.

Postmenopause brings feelings of depression for many women, a feeling of “getting old.” Well let me tell you, it’s impossible to feel old when you can deadlift 135 pounds!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/traveliving.