Along with middle age comes the dreaded phase called menopause. Menopause is often accompanied by less than desirable symptoms and has the potential to be incredibly disruptive to your overall quality of life. Because of this, it is imperative to take good care of yourself and your body during this phase of life.
You may start to notice some extra weight holding on around your midsection or your joints become achy and tired. Brain fog, fatigue, hot flashes, and an overall irritable mood are all common symptoms of menopause and often creep up on a slowly. So much so that the body often takes note of our changing hormones long before our mind does. Because of this, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to prepare ahead of time and have a solid exercise routine in place before your body decides it's time to throw it’s temper tantrum known as menopause.
Chances are, if you're already in menopause the last thing you feel like doing is working out. You're tired, your bones are achy, you're already sweating, and your brain feels like mush from lack of sleep. But what if exercise could help alleviate some of those symptoms? Would it be worth putting in the work if you could hold some of those awful symptoms at bay?
One of the most common complaints perimenopausal and menopausal women have is the unexpected weight gain around the midsection even when there have been no lifestyle changes. 10 to 12 lbs gained is a common number, and one way to combat that is to have a solid exercise routine in place. It may not prevent all weight gain, but it will definitely keep it in check.
As women age, our estrogen starts to drop and during menopause it drops significantly. This means that bone loss will occur, as estrogen regulates bone metabolism. A really easy way to combat bone loss is through strength training and progressively overloading our muscles and bones. This doesn't mean that you have to join a gym and become a meathead. You can gain tremendous benefit by hiking, rock climbing, dancing, martial arts, and a myriad of other activities.
Hot flashes are one of the dreaded side effects of menopause. They disrupt your sleep, elevate your heart rate, and make you feel miserable overall. But there is hope! Studies have shown that women who incorporate regular exercise into their routine have fewer hot flashes than women who do not exercise at all. If this is a symptom that you are experiencing, it might be worth adopting a good exercise routine.
I've heard many women say they feel like a stranger in their own body during perimenopause and menopause. They don't recognize themselves both physically and mentally and it can wreak havoc on one's self-esteem. A solid workout routine can give you a huge mental and emotional boost. Not only does exercise release all of the happy hormones in your brain, but you'll start to feel stronger and more confident as your body starts to change in positive ways.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, and there is a notable increase in risk for cardiovascular disease among menopausal women. Leading a healthy lifestyle is imperative to combating this risk, and part of that includes a regular exercise routine.
What exercises are best
In order to increase bone density, some type of resistance training is optimal. But there are plenty of other types of exercise that you will benefit from as well.
Stretching exercises as well as balance and stability exercises are phenomenal for menopausal women. Balance and flexibility both decrease as we age, and keeping a hold of them as long as you can will keep you feeling and looking younger longer.
30+ minutes of walking has many benefits to our health. It doesn’t have to be crazy intense. A nice evening walk will do a lot of good for both your mind and body.
Go easy on yourself
If you are approaching menopause or if you're already there, you're probably noticing that you don't feel like yourself. As you try to navigate this new stage of life be sure to be nice to yourself. Menopause can be a challenging time as you learn what works and what doesn’t work for you and your body. If you find that setting rigid daily goals is too much, set a weekly goal. So maybe your goal is working out 3 days a week instead of every day. If your achy bones are telling you to take a rest day, then take a rest day. Set realistic and achievable goals so that they are easier to adhere to. And if you don’t get your workout done because your body is tired and worn, try taking a nice walk after dinner instead. It will be low impact for your joints but will still give your mind the boost it needs.
Menopause is something that we can’t avoid, but we can make it easier for our bodies by incorporating healthy habits and exercise routines. Be kind to yourself, both physically and mentally, and if all else fails, go to the gym and release your frustration and irritability there. It works every time!