Exercise Tips for Women in Perimenopause and Menopause
Exercise might not be the top item on your to-do list when you are going through symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia can already be reason enough as to why you do not have the motivation to get up. However with a combination of light exercise, small changes in your diet, the addition of a complete probiotic vitamin for women and fiber, you'll have more energy and willingness to start moving more! Taking the first step can be hard but to overcome this obstacle start by dressing in your sports gear, and just walking to your mailbox every morning. This weird little trick works incredibly well, as you'll find out, once you get to your mailbox it's easy to convince yourself to just walk a few minutes further! All change starts with little steps and this change along with a few more simple changes can really help alleviate the symptoms you may be experiencing in midlife.
Here we have compiled some exercises that you might find useful for your menopause symptoms.
Why Should You Exercise in Menopause?
There are many reasons why you should continue working out when you enter perimenopause and menopause. Firstly, exercise will help you manage weight, thus preventing weight gain and obesity. In menopause, the estrogen decline often leads to weight gain, but you can help manage it with proper workouts. Secondly, exercise can help you deal with some of your symptoms. For example, it was found to have a positive effect on insomnia, depression, and sleep quality (1).
Thirdly, working out can improve your overall health and strengthen your immune system in general. As a result, it will help you prevent age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Last but not least, exercise can help slow bone loss, which is a common symptom in women of post-menopausal age. Thus regular workouts will reduce your risk for osteoporosis.
Best Exercises for Women in Menopause
Upon hearing the word “exercise,” a lot of women imagine staying at least two hours at the gym lifting weights. But exercise is not just monotonous weight lifting and treadmill jogs. In fact, if you go on a brisk walk for 30 minutes after having lunch, this is also a great exercise. So be realistic about your abilities and set workout goals that you can achieve without giving up on them altogether. Here are the best types of exercises you should try implementing.
Yes, we said that exercise is not only about lifting weights at the gym. But lifting weights is an essential part of training nonetheless. 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 bar or dumbbells 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 while you are still a beginner.
Aerobic Exercise in Menopause
You might know these types of exercises by its generic name “cardio.” Studies recommend 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate cardio per week for post-menopausal women (2). 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. When you are just starting with cardio workouts, it is best to start simple. The first 10 minutes should consist of light-intensity exercises before trying something more demanding on your body.
As you get older, your sense of balance might decline, which is why you could fall more easily. Falls are not desirable and can be dangerous at the menopausal age. Your bones are not as strong anymore, which means there are more chances of breaking a limb if you fall. It is important to do exercises that improve your stability and sense of balance. You can join a tai chi class, an activity in which slow and fluid movements are practiced to help improve balance. Or you can simply do balancing postures at home. Just try to stay on one leg for a few minutes, then switch to another. If you want, you can also try incorporating easy arm balances or balancing positions from yoga.
If you always thought you are not flexible enough for yoga, think again. No one really becomes a pro at yoga on the first try, and it might take you a very long time to achieve certain positions, but the reward is worth it. Yoga was shown to improve flexibility and muscle strength, reduce stress, improve sleep and chronic pain, and promote respiratory and heart health (3). When you are under stress, your health issues might worsen. Yoga acts as a great relaxation technique, which is why it works so well for relieving many of your symptoms of menopause.
Stretching is very important, too, because it improves your flexibility. As you age, your joints become stiff, and stretching every day can help a lot with promoting joint health. Your leg, hip, and back mobility will improve if you stretch regularly. 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. If your muscles are slightly uncomfortable, keep going, but stop whenever you feel pain.
Going Beyond Exercise in Menopause
Working with your body can give a boost to your immune system, improve your mood, overall health, and bring relief from many symptoms of menopause. This lifestyle change, coupled with others like a healthy diet, giving up smoking, and managing stress, go a long way to making you feel better and living happier in menopause. Supporting your body from the inside is also important.
(1) Barbara Sternfeld et al. “Efficacy of Exercise for Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”
(2) Nalini Mishra et al. “Exercise beyond menopause: Dos and Don’ts.”
(3) Catherine Woodyard. “Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.”