Menopause and the positive influence of exercise
Menopause…… a way of your body telling you you’re at the end of your reproductive life. This means ovulation no longer occurs and production of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone decreases. Most women become menopausal between the ages of 45 and 55. When a woman has had no periods for 12 consecutive months she is considered to be "postmenopausal".
Menopausal symptoms are unique to each woman. The most common symptoms are hot flushes, joint aches and pains, urinary disorders, mood changes and sleeping difficulties. Women experience varying degrees of symptoms but about 60% of women will have mild symptoms for around four to eight years. During menopause women have an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
Exercise is beneficial for any woman at any age, yet many women are not active and unfortunately as we get older our physical activity levels often decrease. This shouldn’t be the case though as the importance of exercise to our overall health and well-being increases as we get older. Physical activity during the menopause transition (peri-menopause)and post-menopause offers many potential benefits including:
Reduced in menopausal symptoms - studies have shown, women who are less active have more frequent menopausal symptoms.
Assist with weight management – helps to prevent weight gain associated with changing hormones.
Strengthens bones – bone loss accelerates 1.5% annually, increasing the risk of reduced bone mineral density and osteoporosis. Weight-bearing strengthening exercises helps to slow the decline of bone mineral density and prevent osteoporosis.
Increases muscle mass and strength – From 30 years of age, we lose 1% of muscle mass annually. Loss of muscle of muscle strength, mass and endurance is one of the most common things we see in the clinic in this particular demographic and often leads to hip and shoulder problems involving the tendons. Strength exercises aim to maintain and build bone and muscle/tendon strength, can help burn body fat and increase metabolism.
Improved cardiorespiratory function – keeps heart and lungs strong and reduces risk of heart related conditions.
Reduced risk of developing chronic diseases including - high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
Reduced incidence of aches and pains - including lower back pain.
Help reduce stress and improve mood – studies have shown physically active women are less stressed and have better quality of life.
Recommendations suggest completing at least 30 minutes of exercise per day (preferably 60 minutes/day) and this can be broken down into small efforts throughout the day if it is easier or you can’t find a chunk of time to get your exercises done. We absolutely believe that more you move, the better you will feel and there are many ways to do so:
Aerobic Training – Including walking, swimming, running and cycling, which all work large muscle groups whilst getting your heart and breathing rates up.
Strength training – completing exercises using your own body weight, resistance bands, free weights or even just lifting bottles of water. This type of training keeps your bones and muscles strong and may reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Mobility/Stretching - Muscles and tendons tend to stiffen up and staying flexible is important as we get older so we can do daily living activities with relative ease; like putting on our socks and shoes, or bending over to pick something up. Balance exercises and workouts will improve your stability and decrease the risk of falls.
Finding the type of physical activity that you enjoy is the second-most important thing – the most important thing is that you commit to doing it daily! If you are someone who is going through this life-changing period and aren’t exercising, then book yourself in to see Erin our exercise physiologist and she can help you get started with a plan to keep active and stay well, tailored to your needs and likes. If you have some specific aches and pains that need some attention then a consult with one of our osteos or physio would be the first place to start.
So what are you waiting for? Get moving, keep moving and feel fitter, stronger and healthier and help kick those menopausal blues away!
Mendoza, N., De Teresa, C., Cano, A., Godoy, D., Hita-Contrereas, F., Lapotka, M., Llaneza, P., Manonelles, P., Martinez-Amat. A., Ocon, O., Rodriguez-Alcala, L., Velez, M., & Sanchez-Borrego, R. (2016). Benefits of physical exercise in postmenopausal women. Maturitas, 93, 83–88.
Mishra, N., Mishra, V. N., & Devanshi. (2011). Exercise beyond menopause: Dos and Don’ts. Journal of Mid-life Health, 2(2), 51-56.
Stojanovska, L., Apostolopoulos, V., Polman, R, & Borkoles, E. (2014). To exercise, or, not to exercise, during menopause and beyond. Maturitas, 77(4), 318–323 .