The menopause can affect women in many ways, but the main consensus of opinion is that some of the symptoms can be really debilitating. Menopause symptoms can last ten years, in the lead up to the actual menopause (perimenopause) and for a few years after the actual menopause. Menopause usually takes place around the age of fifty, but this can vary from woman to woman.
These symptoms range from the physical – including insomnia and hot flushes through to emotional – low mood, depression and anxiety. As someone who has been through the menopause, I know only too well how these symptoms can affect our daily life. For a previous blog post on menopause please click here
Faced with these symptoms I began to look at ways to improve how I was feeling. I decided against taking HRT for me personally (although I am not against it for others and each woman is different, so please speak to your doctor for advice.) I looked at my diet, lifestyle and mental wellbeing and made lots of changes to try and improve my overall health.
One of the first things I looked at was exercise. My doctor recommended exercise as a way of managing my symptoms and also to improve my emotional health, which I must admit was a little fragile during the perimenopause. Many recent studies have proven results that regular exercise can have a huge positive effect on menopause symptoms.
I researched carefully which form of exercise would benefit me and my symptoms and I set my goal to include regular exercise in my life. I am happy to report that exercise really DID work for me and my symptoms lessened to such a degree that I hardly noticed some of them.
This blog post is therefore written from my own experience as I am really keen to get the message across of how important exercise can be to women during the menopause years. Sadly many women shy away from exercising in public due to a lack of confidence, so I hope this post helps women feel reassured.
As you know I am a member of David Lloyd Club in Harrogate and the set up there is so welcoming to people of all ages, but especially to those of us who are a ‘little older.’ David Lloyd Clubs throughout the UK are committed to having at least one Fitness Trainer aged 55+ in every Club by 2022. This is a major step towards engaging more with the over 55 age group and David Lloyd Club should be commended for this initiative.
The current ethos of the David Lloyd Clubs is to concentrate on encouraging the over 55’s to be more involved in exercise, fitness for health and general wellbeing. This is great news for those of us who find going to the gym daunting due to our age. I have always been made to feel so welcome at my Club and I have NEVER experienced any awkwardness due to my age.
So what exercises are beneficial for women going through the menopause?
Strength Training. OK, you may feel intimidated by lifting weights at the gym, but trust me, this form of exercise is vital for those menopausal years as maintaining muscle strength is crucial at this time. During the menopause the risk of osteoporosis increases and so weight training will also help build up bone strength. Strength training also helps burn body fat and can increase your metabolism. Fitness Trainers are available in the gym to help you with a strength training programme that suits you.
Yoga. The practice of yoga has been proven to offer many health benefits, but especially to menopausal women. A recent study from the University of California stated that weekly yoga classes led to an average weekly drop of hot flushes in 30% of menopausal women. Yoga also restores mental balance of emotions and can improve poor sleep patterns which are often disturbed during menopause. I attend yoga classes at my David Lloyd Club and I can honestly say Yoga really improved all my symptoms. I also felt calmer and more relaxed.
Stretching. A recent study from Japan concluded that menopausal women who did stretching exercises just ten minutes a day saw improvement in their symptoms. It was also reported that stretching also helped improve sleep and mood. I attend a regular stretch class at my local David Lloyd Club and I must admit even doing gentle stretches has really improved my overall health and wellbeing, not to mention my flexibility.
Cardio exercises. It has been reported that women are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease as soon as they enter the menopause. This could be due to the imbalance of hormones, especially due to the drop in oestrogen. It is therefore important to include some cardio workout in your exercise routine. I use the elliptical machines, such as the cross trainer at my local gym for my cardio workout.
Zumba / Dance. I love dance. I feel energized when I dance and it makes me feel happy. During menopause it is so important to try and capture this feel-good feeling as it is imperative to try lift our low mood that can occur at this time. Dance is for everyone, regardless of age and experience. Why not try it and see how good it makes you feel.
Swimming. This is a great all round exercise, especially for someone new to exercise. Many gyms now have indoor pools so you can swim all year round. I find swimming so relaxing and I never feel like I am doing exercise. Plus, I love to use the sauna and steam room at my gym for further relaxation after my swim session.
I hope this blog post has given you some thoughts on exercise during the menopause. I know from experience how debilitating the menopause can be, but there are positive things you can do to relieve some of your symptoms.
If you feel daunted by starting exercise, why not try your local gym? The fitness trainers will help you devise a suitable programme for you, so there is no need to worry about your current level of fitness. Gyms are for everyone, regardless of age and will welcome you and provide all the encouragement you need.
Our health is so important and even more so as we get older. The menopause brings many challenges at a time when we are already facing other personal issues, such as children leaving home and the deterioration of elderly parents. Exercise can bring back control in our life and if we feel healthier then we can cope a lot better with other issues in our life.
How have you used exercise for coping with menopause symptoms? Did you find it helped you? Which exercises helped you the most?
Don’t forget to always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regime.
Until next time dear friends
** This post was sponsored by David Lloyd Club, Harrogate but as always the words and thoughts are my own**