Menopause and Exercise
Mood swings, hot flushes, and pesky night sweats. Sound familiar? Menopause affects each woman differently. Some barely experience symptoms, whereas others have to deal with the severe side effects.
But don’t worry, there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to help you live with your body’s changes.
From reducing body fat, increasing bone and muscle strength, and embarking on a good exercise regime, we’ve got lots of tips and advice on how to ease those menopausal symptoms.
For more information on menopause and exercise, and living a comfortable and stress-free life during these changes, keep on reading!
Benefits of keeping active during menopause
Builds muscle mass, strengthens bones and joints
Unfortunately, as women age, they are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. The good news is, regular exercise, particularly strength training, is fantastic for building and maintaining bone density.
It will help build lean muscle which in turn can burn body fat, helping you maintain a suitable weight.
Boosts your mental health
One of the best things for depression and low mood is exercise, and for good reason. Exercise releases endorphins which help lower depression and prevent cognitive decline.
Just 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week is all you need to live a happier and healthier life.
Reduces the risk of cancer and diseases
Gaining too much weight during menopause can put your health at serious risk. Excessive weight can increase your risk of developing cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Regular moderate aerobic activity and strength training exercises can help reduce these risks exponentially.
Exercises to focus on during menopause
Any aerobic activity, that uses the large muscle groups while elevating your heart rate counts as cardio, including swimming, brisk walking, jogging, and bike riding.
If you’re a complete beginner, it’s recommended to start doing 10 minutes of light physical activity a day, slowly boosting exercise intensity as you get fitter and stronger.
There’s nothing better for building muscle and increasing bone density than strength training or resistance exercise! Resistance training exercises will build strong bones and muscles, and boost your metabolism.
Choose free weights, resistance bands, or even weight machines, depending on whether you’re at a gym or home. Select a weight that challenges your muscles after 10-12 repetitions and slowly increase the weight as you feel stronger.
Stretching exercises, deep breathing and yoga may offer relief and relaxation from the stress of menopause. Restorative yoga can help reduce hot flushes and relieve stress.
Stretching can also improve your flexibility. The best time to stretch is after a workout to help your muscles cool down efficiently and properly.
The great thing about yoga is, it can be more challenging than just stretching if you’re feeling adventurous. There are plenty of awesome yoga tricks to try once you’re feeling strong. You could be lifting your own body weight in a cool inversion pose such as a headstand or even handstand!
Tips for exercising during menopause
Water is life, literally! Hydration is so important at any time of life, but during menopause, you’ll need to pay special attention to your water intake.
Falling oestrogen levels can reduce your body’s ability to hydrate itself. If you don’t drink plenty of water you’ll end up dehydrated which can be serious, so drink up!
Let your body rest and recover
Although a consistent exercise programme is good, rest days are also very important! Your body isn’t a machine and it needs rest.
Depending on your fitness levels, aim for 2-3 rest days per week, so put your feet up and chill!
Keep workouts varied
They say variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to your exercise routine, varied workouts will help prevent you from becoming bored.
Boredom means you’re more likely to quit, so try switching up your workouts every week, to keep it interesting.
Eat a full and balanced diet
Doing moderate to vigorous aerobic activity is all well and good, but if your diet is completely rubbish, you’ll feel like rubbish!
A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and feel good from the inside. But that’s not to say you can’t treat yourself here and there, everything in moderation!
What to avoid during menopausal exercise
Pushing yourself too hard
The biggest mistake beginners make is rushing in and doing too much exercise for their body to handle. This is how injuries can happen and then that will set you even further back.
The smart thing to do is start very gently and increase the intensity as you feel stronger and more confident.
Only doing one type of exercise
To keep your body functioning well during menopause, you need to tackle various areas. There’s heart health, muscle strength, balance and mental health.
Doing just one type of exercise won’t tackle all of these areas so keep your programme varied and midlife health in check by including aerobic exercise, yoga, and resistance training.
Not planning your workouts
It’s cliche, but fail to prepare then prepare to fail! Not having a plan can cause you to jump in too quickly and end up injured.
Take some time to plan your exercise regime and you’ll be much more likely to stick to it!
Ultimately, living through menopause doesn’t have to mean you stop living your life. With a few lifestyle changes, you can still live a happy and fulfilled life. Remember, set small, realistic goals at first, and you’ll be stronger before you know it.
How much exercise does a post-menopausal woman need?
Post-menopausal women should aim for around 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This obviously depends on your current fitness levels, but this amount is ideal for reducing the risk of heart disease or bone loss.
Does exercise speed up menopause?
No, there’s no link between exercise at any age and menopause. Physical activity won’t speed up or slow down menopause.
Can I avoid menopause weight gain?
Yes! Regular moderate exercise including cardio and weight lifting are great ways of preventing weight gain during menopause. All of the exercise suggestions above are great ways of staying lean, fit, and healthy!