It's called the “Change" but should we change?

Today we are discussing Exercise and the Menopause - thankfully no longer a taboo subject. Menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life. Some of us dread it others embrace it. 

But realising the effects and solutions is just as important, as most women can expect to live one-third to one-half of their lives past menopause. 

The emergence of menopause as a hot health topic is likely the result of newer research that has shown that exercise plays a key role in easing the transition into menopause, enhancing a woman’s health, happiness and productivity. With so many negatives and myths surrounding the “menopause” it's vital to understand the process. 

The medical definition of menopause is the cessation of menses for 12 months. Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop making the hormones estrogen and progesterone. While the average age of menopause onset is 51, some women may enter menopause as early as their 30s or as late as their 60s. Symptoms of menopause include: hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, headache, lethargy/fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, a racing heart or skipped beats, and joint pain.

Depressed, angry,tired, confused...however you feel, you're not alone and it's not your fault. It's a natural process that all of us go through.  Of course, that doesn't make it any easier especially when that 'natural process' causes weight loss to be slow or even stagnant. However, if you know what to expect and you commit to doing something about it, you can make a difference.

Your first point of attack is a good, quality exercise routine.

Moving your body regularly can also help ease other menopausal difficulties. The release of feel-good endorphins may lift your mood and calm irritability; and getting in a good workout can help you sleep more soundly too.

NICE Statistics on the menopause

Remaining active can relieve hot flashes, and a heart-pumping routine can even increase your libido. Win Win !! Exercise  can also help prevent improve  sexual and urinary health issues that may arise due to menopause, like pelvic organ prolapse (when the pelvic organs slip out of place) or urinary incontinence, can be improved with exercise as well - Think Kegal Ladies ! 

If you have been exercising consistently before reaching menopause, you’ve already gained health benefits. Aerobic activity during childbearing years reduces the risk for breast cancer, which is more prevalent after menopause. You will also have gained a jumpstart on your bone health since your strength-training exercises may have increased the density and strength of your bones.It is estimated that the average weight gain during menopause is about 10 to 15 pounds.

Weight gain is a particular struggle for women as they go through hormonal changes —specifically, the body’s tendency to hold fat around the abdomen instead of the hips and thighs. Some of us start noticing that middle age spread developing or the muffin top creeping over our favourite pair of jeans !!! 

More than 250,000 menopausal and postmenopausal women are affected by osteoporosis. ... At the age of 40, women begin to lose bone at a rate of 0.3% to 0.5% per year.

This is why  It's so important to incorporate both cardio and weight training into your regime. We need to look after our bone health. Get your cardio in. It does not have to be hours trudging the treadmill, but enough to increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Your RMR slows down during the menopausal transition due to fluctuating hormone levels and decreased muscle mass  something that  unfortunately comes with older age. But workouts fight that slowdown, allowing you to maintain a healthy body composition(The combination of fat, lean muscle and bone) and bone density.

Menopause can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Remember good nutrition and a physically active lifestyle go together hand in hand. Get your exercise in,make time for you. Be mindful of what goes in you mouth. A diet low in saturated and trans fat and high in fiber and calcium is key.

My next blog we will be looking at training methods and exercises that we should incorporate into our training to help us not shy away from the menopause but to embrace it.