discuss menopause (opens in new tab) is back, my monthly column where I debunk common menopause myths and questions. This month, I’m examining the research on the link between exercise and menopause—keep scrolling to find out what you need.
The best part of the week, once I drag myself out of bed, is my Saturday morning run through the muddy streets of Somerset. It’s often wet, and sometimes so cold that my fingers go numb, but running with friends gives me a post-exercise surge of energy (helped by excellent chat) that lasts all day.
It’s no revelation that exercise is good for us. But what you probably don’t realize is that exercising now is better for your future health. when it comes to perimenopause (opens in new tab)Furthermore, it is an investment that will not fail.
“There are so many benefits,” says Dr. Samantha Wilde, Women’s Health Lead and GP at Bupa Health Clinics, “During perimenopause and menopause (opens in new tab)Exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms, especially low mood, anxiety, sleeplessness and joint stiffness, and some studies say it can reduce hot flushes and night sweats. (opens in new tab)Here).
For a long time, studies have proven that it also helps maintain bone, muscle and heart health – so it’s really a no-brainer.
Exercise and Menopause: So, What’s Really the Connection?
“Official guidelines recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise plus two resistance, or weight-bearing, sessions a week,” says Dr Wild.
It sounds an awful lot in our already packed lives, but she suggests multitasking, for example, running with light ankle and wrist weights, and adding in squats, lunges, and curls.
His top trick? “Try and work every muscle group twice by the end of the week.”
Exercise enhances both body and mind
However, it’s not just about your physical health – far from it. The link between exercise and mental health (opens in new tab) Another great reason to lace up your trainers. Exercise releases feel-good hormones (opens in new tab)called endorphins – that’s why you feel great after a workout (attachment is a personal choice).
One of the first symptoms of perimenopause, which can occur in your late thirties, is often anxiety. (opens in new tab)low mood, and insomnia (opens in new tab),
i love doing pilates (opens in new tab)If I’m feeling tense – it’s also great for flexibility, muscle tone and balance. yoga specialist Petra Covenant Leads classes from peri to postmenopause. “We incorporate specific practices tailored to calm hot flushes, calm your mind, reduce insomnia, and re-energize,” she says. “menopause yoga (opens in new tab) is a holistic practice that supports bones, balance, heart and mental health.”
exercise improves bone health
Perhaps you feel too young to worry about osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones. But it’s never too early to consider bone health, and weight-bearing exercise is absolutely vital.
Weight-bearing means you’re working against gravity to encourage calcium deposits — preventing bone loss, and even building new bone.
“You can lose up to 20 percent of your bone density in the seven to ten years following menopause,” says Dr Karen Hind (opens in new tab), director of clinical affairs at Medimaps Group. “Up until age forty, you can build bone mass with a good diet and exercise. During perimenopause, the goal is to maintain it.”
Royal Osteoporosis Society helpfully categorizes exercise; Low impact is brisk walking, medium impact is running and team and racquet sports. High impact can include star jump and basketball.
Maintaining muscle mass is equally important – it goes down from around our mid-twenties. As well as supporting strong bones, muscle mass is linked to general good health. “A big fear is growing up,” says the personal trainer. Kate Rowe-HaimWhich makes workouts for menopausal women.
“In reality, when you weight train, you are building lean muscle,” she shares. If that’s not reason enough, remember that muscle burns more calories than fat, which boosts metabolism.
“I get into weight training (opens in new tab) It’s like meditation,” says Kate. “You’re very focused on what you’re doing. It’s a good way to switch off.”
And you don’t need to join an expensive gym with today’s Zoom-enabled workouts. “You can easily do weight training at home.”
exercise is the key to a healthy heart
Ready to get your heart pumping? “Estrogen protects the heart, but after menopause, twice as many women die from it.” Coronary heart disease in the form of breast cancerKate reminisces.
“Aerobic exercise keeps blood pressure and cholesterol down, and also lowers the risk of diabetes,” says Dr. Wild. You don’t have to go full Lycra—she says that walking a very fast dog (so fast that “you can’t talk in sentences”) counts. so running, swimming, cycling and tennis, and British Heart Foundation Gardening and household chores also count.
This is a useful thing. The next time I feel heartburn about cleaning the kitchen or going up and down the stairs with a load of clean laundry, I’ll remind myself that it’s exercise!
Remember to focus on inner strength too
In other words, don’t neglect your pelvic floor. This important area also needs daily exercise. “About 20 percent of young women wet themselves, but few talk about it,” says Physiotherapist Ellen Millerwho specialize in pelvic floor health.
“This can usually be corrected with pelvic floor exercises (and if not, physio). They’re easy to learn, free to do and the only side effect is (probably) a better orgasm!”
Her website offers the most comprehensive explanation ever — “Take a deep breath, exhale. As you exhale, #squeezeandlift your bum-hole. Hold it closed for a 10-second count and exhale. ”
You are welcome.