Exercise & The Menopause30/05/2022, Kate Rowe-Ham, Personal Trainer
I have seen so many women who have always been really fit and healthy, suddenly struggling to keep up their usual routine as they approach the menopause.
Midlife is a time when we may find ourselves juggling family life, home life, work-life, elderly, or sick parents and many of our needs fall by the wayside. This often coincides with some of the menopause symptoms that can make life seem that extra bit harder and, feeling lost, we may put our own health and wellbeing on the back burner.
“Empowering yourself with information is key when it comes to the menopause. In the first instance knowing that the symptoms you are experiencing is due to changing hormones gives you an understanding of what’s going on in your body. This provides an opportunity to consider your options, whether it’s changes in lifestyle or deciding to go on HRT.” - Dr. Nicky Keay
A Few Facts
- Perimenopause can go on for as long as 10 years
- Menopause lasts for one day; It is the day after you have not had a period for one year. After this, you are what's called post menopause
- The average age that the menopause occurs is 51
- The main hormones are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
- Women will experience hormone imbalance as they enter and transition through to menopause due to declining estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels
- These hormone changes will impact a woman’s physical and mental health to varying degrees during perimenopause with a range of symptoms experienced
- There are 34 symptoms and counting
When we think about the menopause, we often overlook the role exercise can play, but it is an integral part of managing many of the symptoms. It is estimated that 40% of adult women in the UK don’t get enough exercise which can put them at risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
How Can Exercise Help?
Exercise can help manage many of the symptoms but we must focus on the parts that we might not be able to see.
Many women think that heart disease is a man's disease - it isn't. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. In fact, after age 50, nearly half of all deaths in women are due to some form of cardiovascular disease. A healthy lifestyle goes a long way in preventing heart disease in women. Being active or exercising regularly (ideally, at least 150 minutes total each week) helps improve how well the heart pumps blood through your body.
Osteoporosis is one of many health concerns for midlife women. Your bone health can be protected with proper nutrition including adequate calcium and vitamin D. One in three women over 50 years will sustain a fracture to the hip and this could have serious consequences to their health. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption also slows bone loss. For good bone health osteoporosis prevention exercise is fundamental, especially adding resistance and weight training.
Did you know that muscle mass can decline at an approximate rate of 3-5 percent per year? Not only that but hormonal fluctuations play a role in hindering muscle gain. Menopause is associated with a natural decline in estrogen, which increases visceral fat mass and can decrease muscle mass and strength.
Mind & Brain
Cognitive decline is common during the transition into menopause, including symptoms such as forgetfulness and delayed verbal memory, reduced verbal processing speed, and impaired verbal learning. Regular exercise can also support brain and mental health.
What Types Of Exercise Are Good?
- HIIT - High-Intensity Interval Training - whilst this efficient, fat-burning, heart-pumping, can do anywhere workout is brilliant, it’s important to make sure you feel up for the intensity. Menopause symptoms can leave us feeling tired, if we overdo it, we can find ourselves susceptible to injury and joint pain. My advice would be to lower the intensity if needed.
- LISS - Low Impact Steady State - LISS cardio has many health benefits, including improved blood flow, reduced stress, lower risk of heart disease, and improved brain function. It is easier to do and gentler on the body so it’s appropriate for beginners.
- Non-impact - swimming, cycling, Pilates, and Yoga will help improve flexibility, and balance as well as providing an effective workout.
- Strength training - Strength training will help you build lean muscle, cardiovascular joint, and bone health and can also help to offset the decline of bone mineral density and prevent osteoporosis.
So, you can see now how important it is to be fit through menopause, so start to think about how to approach these inevitable changes.
If you plan and prepare you can avoid a number of barriers that may prevent you from exercising.
If this blog has got you interested in starting your wellness journey call our wellness advisors at 020 7843 3597 or enquire here.
|About The Author|
Kate Rowe-Ham is a Level 3 qualified personal trainer who specialises in helping midlife and menopausal women reach their fitness potential.