Need a New Exercise Routine for Menopause? Start Here.
When you're dealing with menopause symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia, exercise might not be the top item on your to-do list. However, exercising during menopause can help with those exact symptoms — it has been found to have a positive effect on insomnia, depression, and sleep quality. It can also help manage weight, decrease bone density loss, and improve your overall health and strengthen your immune system in general, lessening your risk for age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Best Exercises for Women in Menopause
Upon hearing the word “exercise,” a lot of women imagine hours spent at the gym, using huge weight-lifting machinery or sweating on the treadmill. But that's not the only kind of exercise there is — in fact, the best exercise is whatever you'll actually do! Brisk walks, gentle yoga, and tai chi all offer excellent health benefits. So even if you're not a "gym rat," don't worry — we have some ideas for how to integrate more exercise into your life.
Studies recommend 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate cardio per week for menopausal women. But that doesn't mean you have to spend that whole time jogging or in an aerobics class. You have so many options when it comes to aerobic activities, including running, biking, swimming, brisk walking, interval training, dancing, or circuit training, among others. You might want to try classes at a local gym or exercise studio, or try out the many free and cheap exercise videos available on YouTube.
For menopausal women, strength training is the best way to build muscle and slow bone loss in order to prevent osteoporosis. As you age, your lean muscle mass also begins to decline, so lifting weight is an excellent way to recover. But make sure you are not pushing your limits – even just walking around while holding a small weight in your hands is already helpful. If you want to go a step further, you can ask a trainer at the gym to help you learn the ropes, or take a class aimed at beginners.
As you get older, your sense of balance might decline, which can leads to falls and trips, which can be more dangerous as you age — the odds of injuring yourself in a fall increase for menopausal women. Exercises that improve balance and flexibility are incredibly important at this point in life, and even if they're not your favorite to do, they should find a place in your routine.
Tai chi and yoga classes are good places to improve your balancing ability; you can also try gentle balancing exercises at home.
If you've never tried yoga before, getting started can be intimidating — don't you have to be really flexible to get into any of the poses? But the reality is that anyone can try yoga, and beginner's classes involve simple poses that even women with minimal flexibility can try.
Yoga has been shown to improve flexibility and muscle strength, as well as reduce stress, improve sleep and chronic pain, and promote respiratory and heart health — so it might help with your other symptoms, as well.
Stretching is key for flexibility, which is also important as we age — joints become stiffer, which can lead to pain, injury, and decreased mobility. Stretching every day can help a lot with promoting joint health, including in the legs, hips, and back.
You can practice some simple moves like bending slightly to touch your toes or bending one leg at the knee while balancing on the other. Keep your stretching light, and do not overdo it.
Going Beyond Exercise in Menopause
Working with your body can give a boost to your immune system, improve your mood and overall health, and bring relief from many symptoms of menopause. This lifestyle change — coupled with others like eating a healthy diet, giving up smoking, and managing stress — will go a long way to making you feel better and living happier in menopause.