When you’re going through the menopause and all its uncomfortable symptoms, like hot flashes, achy joints and mood swings — you’re probably not feeling particularly motivated to exercise… BUT KEEP READING… because regular exercise can make all those symptoms more bearable!
Menopause is a normal condition that all women experience as they age and is an important transition in every woman’s life. The term “menopause” describes the changes a woman goes through either just before or after she stops menstruating, marking the end of her reproductive period.
Menopause is considered a normal part of aging when it happens after the age of 40. But some women can go through menopause early, either as a result of surgery, such as hysterectomy, or damage to the ovaries, which can be caused by chemotherapy or radiation of the pelvis. Menopause that happens before 40, regardless of the cause, is called premature menopause.
What are the symptoms?
Some common symptoms of menopause are:
- Insomnia & Fatigue
- Hot flashes & Sweats
- Mood swings & Irritability
- Depression & Anxiety
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
- Changes in sex drive & Vaginal dryness
- Bladder control problems
- Racing heart
Menopause varies wildly from woman to woman; you may experience some or all of these symptoms and they can range from mild to debilitatingly severe
Simple steps to beat menopause symptoms
Unpleasant symptoms of menopause can typically be reduced with simple strategies:
- healthy diet
- regular exercise
- looking after your mental health
- reducing your stress levels
- getting enough good quality sleep
- using light-weight pyjamas and bedding to help with night sweats
- avoiding the things that trigger your hot flushes
- quitting smoking
- hormone replacement therapy where needed
Why keeping fit through menopause matters
Exercise during and after menopause offers many benefits, including:
- Preventing weight gain – Women tend to lose muscle mass and gain abdominal fat around menopause. Regular physical activity can help maintain muscle mass and prevent weight gain.
- Reducing the risk of cancer – Exercise during and after menopause can help you lose excess weight or maintain a healthy weight, which can offer protection from various types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancer.
- Strengthening your bones – Exercise can slow bone loss after menopause, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Weight-bearing and strength training are great for keeping your bones healthy and strong.
- Reducing 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.
- Boosting your mood – When you exercise, your body releases “feel-good” hormones which can help fight depression. Being physically active can also provide a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.
- Reducing your risk of falls – Helps you maintain good balance and reduce the risk of injury from falls.
Exercising a few times per week is also an excellent way to stave off weight gain and loss of muscle mass, which are symptoms of menopause.
If you are experiencing hot flashes, try exercising in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day. Exercise before bed is also not recommended given the risk of delayed post exercise hypoglycaemia (when your blood sugar levels drop). When possible, scheduling similar timing of exercise into your daily routine maybe beneficial to minimize the risk of this nocturnal hypoglycaemia.
Exercising in a relaxed environment that has a focus on deep relaxed breathing such as yoga, Tai chi or low impact classes that focus on slow controlled breathing with the movement. This type of exercise preserves your body’s range of motion and keep your joints flexible, two things that we often lose as we get older. Yoga and meditation can also help with insomnia and night sweats, meaning you can get a better night’s sleep.
Who can help?
Accredited Exercise Physiologists can support you going through menopause as they understand the physiological and hormonal changes occurring during this time in your life.
An individualised exercise program can be developed for you to help prevent the onset of chronic and complex conditions. Exercise Physiologists have the professional skill and experience to prescribe the right exercise your symptoms and help you feel good again!