Exercise isn’t a scientifically proven treatment for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, irritability, and insomnia. However, some studies report a decrease in severity of hot flashes by 55 percent. Additionally, many women indicate that regular physical activity during and after menopause helps relieve stress and improve quality-of-life. These benefits apply to all stages of life, but are especially needed during the journey through menopause.
Menopause is the body’s natural progression to the next cycle in a woman’s life. This milestone presents changes that can trigger uncomfortable physical and emotional results. (An understatement at times, for sure.) Just as exercise can ease menstrual discomfort, it also can aid women who are dealing with the challenges of menopause. Consider this an ideal time to set personal wellness goals. Setting a regular exercise program can help carry you through this phase and beyond. Assure that your new self will be in optimum condition to enjoy the next chapter of your life.
Get Ready for Combat
You wouldn’t enter a boxing ring without appropriate training. Don’t go through the strain of menopause without equivalent protection, which can be provided in a well-executed fitness program.
Exercise is just what’s needed to:
- Avoid the extra pounds common when muscle mass lags during menopause.
- Possibly protect against breast cancer by eliminating the customary weight gain associated with menopause.
- Counteract the increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
- Minimize the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses that become more common during and after menopause.
- Improve your mental health at a time when hormonal shifts and their subsequent mental implications can challenge your positive spirit.
Post-menopausal women lose an average of two to three percent of their bone density each year, greatly increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Estrogen levels decrease, which is sometimes associated with an elevated cholesterol level thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. With all this transpiring, a proactive approach to health is essential. Counteract the inevitable physical effects of menopause with a powerful fitness routine and proper nutrition.
So Many Choices
To achieve the maximum benefits from exercise, develop a well-rounded program. Experts recommend including aerobic exercise, resistance training, and relaxation techniques. Speak with a personal trainer, who can help you customize a routine specific to your needs.
Regular, high-intensity workouts pack the most power during and after menopause. However, it’s important to create a program you enjoy. Perhaps Group Fitness is your preference, but you want the benefits of resistance training. Consider taking a dance class that incorporates weights. Enjoy Yoga but need a strengthening aspect? Try a Pilates class, which focuses on stretching, balancing, and strengthening simultaneously. Having fun while exercising helps assure compliance to the routine, especially on those lazy, dreary days (or snowy days we’re so familiar with this season).
- Aerobic exercise: Reduce the risk of heart disease. Make aerobic activity the foundation of your fitness routine. Anything that uses large muscle groups and delivers a cardio workout (increased heart rate) is considered aerobic in nature. Group Fitness is an ideal source for such activity.
- Strength training: Build bone mass, reduce body fat, condition muscles, and burn calories. Spend time on the Exercise Floor with the weight equipment. Unfamiliar? The Center’s personal trainers walk the floor and are happily available to answer your questions. Consider scheduling a personal training session to best utilize your time and energy. A general guideline: Perform weight-bearing exercise with equipment heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 repetitions.
- Stretching: Increase flexibility; improve circulation and range-of-motion. A good stretching routine can also promote relaxation and relief stress. Flexibility exercises encourage deep breathing, which has been found to ease hot flashes. Consider Group Fitness Yoga to accomplish this segment of your routine.
- Balancing: Improve stability and help avoid bone-breaking falls. Group Fitness Tai Chi focuses on stability and balancing techniques.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends post-menopausal women accomplish three to five aerobic workouts (20 to 60 minutes in length) and two strength-training workouts each week. Beginners should start with 10 minutes of light activity and gradually increase intensity and length.
Even if menopause isn’t on your agenda for the upcoming months or years, the benefits of a good fitness plan are lifelong. And, guys, consider one of your own exercise programs to coincide with this time in life. Encourage and be encouraged.
“Fitness Tips for Menopause: Why Physical Activity Matters” at www.mayoclinic.com.
“Hit the Gym to Beat Hot Flashes” at www.thirdage.com.
“Use Exercise to Balance Menopausal Effects” at www.thirdage.com.
Submerged in snow: www.flickr.com/photos/suerichards
Pathway in Plitvice: flickr.com/photos/39996483@N07/3685090308