Menopause is an important phase in every woman’s life. The ‘change’ can affect each woman differently; for some, symptoms are mild and don’t interfere with their daily life and for others, it’s an explosion of mood swings and hot flushes. That’s why it’s important to take extra care of yourself around this time. Exercise and menopause have a very positive relationship as exercising during menopause can help to improve a range of things including overall quality of life. Read on to find out more about the relationship between exercise and the menopause.
What are the benefits of exercising during menopause?
Although research has not conclusively proven that exercise can help lessen menopausal symptoms, like sleep disturbances and hot flushes, it has still been shown to offer many health benefits both physically and mentally, including:
Improving bone strength:
Our bone strength naturally starts to decrease after the age of 30 but when you go through the menopause, your oestrogen levels start to drop more dramatically. This is directly related to a decrease in bone density thereby increasing your risk of developing osteoporosis otherwise known as brittle bones. By undertaking regular exercise, you can help to maintain and improve your bone density as well as improving your muscle strength and balance, which can help reduce your risk of falling.
Prevent weight gain:
Due to the lack of oestrogen in the body, women tend to lose muscle mass and gain abdominal fat around menopause. Regular exercise can help to prevent weight gain and help maintain muscle mass.
Reduce your risk of cancer
: Exercising during menopause can help you to lose or maintain a healthy weight, which may offer protection against certain types of cancer including: breast, endometrial and colon cancer.
Reduce risk of other diseases
: Exercise can help prevent you putting on weight, excess weight increases the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.
Reduces your stress:
Menopausal symptoms can often be distressing to a woman’s life. The combination of physical and mental symptoms due to their ever changing hormone levels can negatively impact their quality of life. Exercise can be a great way to reduce this stress and help women to cope with their changing bodies, thereby improving their quality of life.
Improves your mood
: One of the most recognised symptoms of menopause is mood swings, these can be quite distressing for some women. By exercising during menopause women can boost their serotonin levels (otherwise known as the happy hormone) and improve their mood.
Best Exercises for Menopause:
Most healthy women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Undertake strength exercises on 2 or more days of the week that work all the major muscle groups, according to the NHS guidelines.
It is crucial for any woman to incorporate some type of resistance training into their exercise regime in order to help maintain and increase their muscle mass and counter what they will naturally lose through the menopause.
Resistance training is so beneficial as it also helps to burn fat and speed up your metabolism, for more information about the benefits of resistance training please read our previous post. Using the weight machines or the free weights at the gym or using resistance bands is a great way to include some resistance training into your workout. Or for a simple home workout, you could even use tinned food as a weight and do squats, lunges, bicep curls and sit ups using the tins as a weight.
Experiencing the menopause doesn’t have to be all bad, it can be a great opportunity to try a new type of exercise such as a kettlebell class to try and incorporate some strength training into your exercise routine whilst being in a fun group environment. Joining exercise classes can be a great way to start introducing exercise into your daily life if you are a newbie, see our previous blog to find out more about the benefits of group classes.
Aerobic activity (anything that makes you out of breath) is vital for our overall fitness and health. The options for your preferred type of cardio are limitless for example: brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling and swimming. Or you could incorporate some HIIT training as part of your cardio if you are short on time.
Yoga, Stretching and Meditation
As the symptoms of menopause can make you feel stressed and tense it is nice to incorporate some more relaxing exercises into your routine, cue yoga. Supportive and restorative yoga poses can offer your mind and body some relief from tensions and help to calm your nervous system by centring your mind, helping you to switch off and relax (which can be a lifesaver if you aren’t sleeping properly). Yoga and meditation can also help reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, irritability and fatigue.
As every woman is unique, the best exercises for menopause can vary. However it’s important to remember that the best types of exercise are the ones that you enjoy and that you can do regularly. At Beckwith Health Club, we understand the effects that menopause can have on some women. Our friendly and welcoming environment is perfect for anyone that is feeling unsure about the best ways to exercise whilst going through ‘the change’.