Menopause is one of the most significant transitions in a woman’s life. The physical changes start showing up when a woman is between 40 and 44 years of age. This is the time before menopause, also known as perimenopause or menopausal transition phase.
When a woman enters the perimenopause stage, the ovaries show a decline in egg and estrogen production. Once she hits menopause the estrogen levels dip further, and the ovaries stop producing eggs. The low estrogen levels are responsible for the majority of the physical changes a woman goes through before and during menopause.
Though menopause and bodily changes are unavoidable, you can certainly try to lessen their intensity by staying healthy and fit. That’s why it is always essential to maintain a good exercise regime, alongside a healthy diet to stay fit before, in, and after menopause.
Why Is It Important To Stay Fit During Menopause?
The hormonal imbalances that the body goes through during menopause may result in a whole lot of symptoms. These include night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, soreness of breasts, bone loss, weight gain, slow metabolism, dry skin, hair loss, and so on. Estrogen not just helps to maintain the reproductive health of a woman, but impacts other functions as well like the nervous system, cardiovascular system, etc. So, when you maintain a regular exercise and fitness regime, you’ll be able to:
- Control excessive weight gain, that’s quite common in menopause because of low estrogen levels.
- Lessen the risk of bone loss, that’s mainly on the rise during, and after menopause. When you exercise appropriately you put yourself at a lesser risk of osteoporosis, and fractures.
- Reduce the severity, and intensity of hot flashes, which is one of the commonest symptoms most women face during, and after menopause.
- Improve your sleep that goes for a toss in and after menopause because of the changing hormone levels and frequent bouts of hot flashes, and night sweats.
- Control your mood swings which are on the rise in and after menopause. Studies show that physical activities signal the brain to release more of the neurotransmitters serotonin, and dopamine, whose numbers get affected due to low estrogen levels. Both these chemicals are instrumental in keeping you rejuvenated, and happy. So when their levels rise your mood brightens up automatically.
7 Of The Best Exercise Regimes To Follow During Menopause
If you are wondering about the appropriate choices of physical activities for menopause, here are some interesting ideas for you to follow.
Aerobic exercises include cardiovascular activities like brisk walking, biking, jogging, swimming, and so on. You can even go for water aerobics which involves doing cardio, strength training, and warm up exercises inside the swimming pool.
Aerobic exercises through menopause come with several health benefits. They boost your mood, raise your energy levels, and also help to improve sleep. You should go slow, with 10-20 minutes a day, if you’re doing it for the first time. Then, you can increase the duration gradually.
If you’ve enrolled yourself in a yoga class to beat your hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, then you’ve just done the best thing for yourself. Yoga in the menopausal transition phase and menopause too will help you in many ways. It helps lessen your joint pain and muscle aches. Yoga even helps to make your heart health better. It even works wonders for your mood, helping you to manage stress well.
A certain study was conducted on 56 women in the age group of 50-79 years. It showed that these women attending yoga sessions once a week for 90 minutes experienced an improvement in their back strength and spinal mobility. They got the desired results after completing 20 classes.
Weight training will help to improve the strength of your muscles, and joints. If you are a novice in this, you may start with light weights first. Then you can make a gradual shift to heavy weights.
Like first you can start with a 5-pound weight and then move to an 8-pound weight slowly. If you are doing it at home, resistance tubing and dumbbells will be a good choice. When doing it at the gym free weights or weight machines will be a better option.
If you consider going to the gym or lifting weights as strenuous, then go for something that will interest you and also take care of your health. What can be better than dance? It will take care of your balance, coordination, rhythm, flexibility, and mood, and also improve your overall health.
You could indulge in an impromptu jig at home, or even go for any of the dance styles which fascinate you. The list includes jazz, salsa, ballroom, ballet, and zumba.
It’s no unknown fact that a drop in estrogen levels makes the joints more stiff and more rigid. That’s why after workouts it’s always important to do stretching exercises as well as this will help to improve the flexibility of your muscles. Focus more on exercises that help to stretch your spine. Backbends and standing stretches will be effective in lessening fatigue, helping you to feel better.
Breathing and Relaxation Techniques
When you have the symptoms bothering you too much, the need of the hour is to stress and calm your body, and mind. The more relaxed you keep your body, the better you feel. Breathing and relaxation techniques are the best ways to keep yourself stress-free.
If you feel you are taking hurried and short breaths, then the best way is to take long breaths slowly. Inhale to a count of five, and exhale to a count of five as well. It’ll make you feel a lot more relaxed.
You may even go for deep breathing to relieve stress. Place your hand below the navel. Take a deep breath by filling your abdomen with air. Then, breathe the air out in a way as if a balloon is being deflated.
When there is a decline in estrogen levels in the perimenopause, and postmenopause phases, the vagina, urethra, and vulva tissues lose elasticity, appearing thin. The vagina also loses lubrication, becoming dry.
The pelvic floor muscles also lose elasticity and flexibility. That’s why pelvic floor exercises are needed. It will help to make the muscles of the pelvic floor strong, and even help to control your bladder movement better.
NOTE: When exercising you should always consider your health first. If you have hip pain, osteoporosis, or any other condition, then consult your doctor before exercising. Also, it’s better to seek the assistance of a trainer in these cases who will guide you properly.
How Much Exercise Should You Do During Menopause?
As per the guidelines of the activities of adults, one must do 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise each week. This means they should devote 30 minutes daily for exercise for 5 days every week.
This might sound a lot but you needn’t do all of it in a go. Like, out of the 30 minutes, you spend 5-7 minutes doing squats while waiting for the water to boil. When you divide your exercise schedule well, then you’ll not feel the pressure of doing everything together.
Besides proper exercise following a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, high-quality protein, dairy products, and whole grains will help lessen the symptoms of menopause to a greater extent.
It’s not that you only have to do strenuous exercises to alleviate your menopause symptoms. You would have to keep yourself positive and motivated always. That will help to solve most of your problems. If you wish to keep it light, a 30-minute walk in the morning and post dinner wouldn’t be a bad option.
You have other activities as well like gardening, swimming, and so on. They will help to burn that extra calories without making you bored. If you find doing solo exercises boring, join a group class for yoga, dance, or anything that suits you.
Besides physical health, mental fitness is of equal importance. To boost your creativity you could do anything that suits you the best. It could be knitting for yourself and your family, joining a painting class, baking, and so on. Remember, how you will be, and will feel in menopause depends a lot on how you live, and what you eat.