Research indicates that whilst exercise during menopause cannot reduce the frequency of hot flushes, it can improve other non-vasomotor symptoms of menopause such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, help you to maintain a healthy weight as well as improving your quality of life overall.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, adults need 2hrs and 30mins (150 minutes) of moderate aerobic activity or 75mins of vigorous activity per week.
Okay, I know, 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but think about it a little and it’s actually not. I am quite willing and able to watch back to back drama on catch-up TV for much longer than that should the mood take me. Fortunately, the good news is that you can spread your activity out during the week, so you don’t have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day (sounding better?) It’s about what works best for you, as long as you’re doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time. (I can do this. Even better I am now doing this!)
Let’s take a look at what the benefits of exercise during menopause are:-
Prevents weight gain
Women tend to lose muscle mass and gain abdominal fat around menopause. Regular physical activity can help prevent weight gain.
Reduces the risk of cancer
Exercise during and after menopause can help you lose excess weight or maintain a healthy weight, which might offer protection from various types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancer.
Strengthens your bones
Exercise can slow bone loss after menopause, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Improves, posture, balance and core strength.
Reduces the risk of other diseases
Menopause weight gain can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise can counter these risks.
Boosts your mood
Physically active adults have a lower risk of depression and cognitive decline.
What are the best types of exercise during menopause?
Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Try brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming or water aerobics. If you’re a beginner, start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase the intensity and duration.
Regular strength training can help you reduce body fat, strengthen your muscles and burn calories more efficiently. Try weight machines, hand-held weights or resistance tubing. Choose a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 repetitions. Gradually increase the resistance level as you get stronger.
Stretching can help improve flexibility. Set aside time to stretch after each workout, when your muscles are warm and receptive to stretching. Taking brief stretch breaks every day is a great idea (especially if you work behind a computer). Muscles and tendons in your legs and back tend to stiffen up, and staying flexible requires attention as we get older.
Stability and Balance
Balance exercises improve stability and can help prevent falls. Try simple exercises, such as standing on one leg while brushing your teeth. Activities such as tai chi and yoga can also can be helpful.
Just in case you need any more motivation or encouragement to exercise during menopause take a look at the following reasons why exercise is so good for you.
Reasons to Exercise
Lifts your mood
Keeps your brain fit
Keeps your body fit and able
Boosts mental health
Boosts your immune system
Makes you feel happier
Has anti-aging effects
Improves skin tone and colour
Improves sleeping patterns
Helps prevent strokes
Improves joint function
Improves muscle strength
Helps to control addictions
Boosts creative thinking
Improves body image
Gives you confidence
Helps you keep focused in life
Improves eating habits
Strengthens your bones
Strengthens your heart
Improves cholesterol levels
Lowers risk of (certain) cancers
Lowers high blood pressure
Lowers risk of diabetes
Eases back pain
Decreases osteoporosis risk
Reduces feelings of depression
Prevents muscle loss
Increases energy and endurance
Increases sports performance
Increases pain resistance
Improves balance and coordination
Improves oxygen supply to cells
Helps with self-control
Increases sex drive and satisfaction
Improves quality of life
How can you stay motivated?
Set realistic, achievable goals. Rather than vowing to exercise more, for example, commit to a daily 30-minute walk after dinner. Frequently update your goals to keep it interesting. Teaming up with someone, such as a partner, friend or neighbour can make a big difference to your motivation.
Remember, you don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. Many activities, such as dancing and gardening can also improve your health and general well-being.
Disclaimer: you may want to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program if you have health concerns or you haven’t exercised in a long time.
How much physical activity do adults need. (June 2015). Retrieved on 29 August 2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
Sternfield B., PhD et al. (April 2014) Efficacy of Exercise for Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3858421/
By Julieann Roberts, Founder/Editor, MHM