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EXERCISE AND THE MENOPAUSE

It is difficult to find something exercise doesn’t improve and menopause is no exception. Research shows it is one of THE most effective ways of helping you cope…

If you feel tired and weighed down by your menopausal symptoms the last thing you probably feel like doing is exercising. And yet…falling oestrogen levels can reduce your muscle tone and bone density as well as impact on the health of your heart – all factors which can be improved by exercise. This is to say nothing of the fact physical activity can help to keep your weight down at a time when you might be finding it harder to lose it. Exercising also has the effect of relieving anxiety and stress and it known to help you sleep better.

Nobody is saying you suddenly have to start circuit training or running marathons (although if you do then great) but whatever you choose, the key is try to do it regularly aiming for the NHS guidelines of 150 minutes a week (that’s five lots of half an hour) of moderate activity.

A 2008 study from the US involving 380 menopausal women found that simply taking a brisk walk can reduce stress, depression and anxiety. It was found that 40 minutes of walking five times a week is all it takes to make a significant improvement to mood during menopause. Walk  to the shops, up the stairs and escalators, join a walking group, take a lunchtime and/or evening stroll. This should not only help reduce anxiety by helping you collect your thoughts it will also help keep your weight within healthy levels.

Weight training is important

Weight training using dumb belles and/or resistance bands, weight machines at the gym and/or your own bodyweight will help build muscle strength and bone, burn body fat and should go some way to revving up your slowing metabolism. Use weights that are heavy enough to tax your muscles and aim for 10-12 repetitions of each exercise. If you hate the gym invest in a couple of weights and a resistance band to use at home for 10 or so minutes a day. There are a whole range of exercise routines online to help.

How HIIT training could help

 High intensity interval training (HIIT) – involving short bursts of high intensity exercise interspersed with rest periods - has become increasingly popular in the last decade and evidence suggests it can also have a hugely beneficial on menopausal symptoms. Recent research from Liverpool John Moores University has shown women who regularly work up a sweat through exercise suffered fewer hot sweats that those who didn’t exercise. High intensity interval training (HIIT) – involving short bursts of high intensity exercise interspersed with rest periods - has become increasingly popular in the last decade and evidence suggests it can also have a hugely beneficial on menopausal symptoms. Recent research from Liverpool John Moores University has shown women who regularly work up a sweat through exercise suffered fewer hot sweats that those who didn’t exercise.

The benefits of Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi

Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi can all help keep you supple plus improve balance and muscle strength and tone. The deep breathing and meditative aspects can help to relieve stress and anxiety.

 

Do something you enjoy

Sounds blindingly obvious but if you don’t enjoy a type of exercise you are not going to stick with it. Some women love tennis, others enjoy dance or high-energy classes like Zumba or spinning. You might prefer something more low-key like swimming or cycling or exercising in the privacy of your own home. Just as the menopause experience is different for all women so is the exercise we choose and whether we prefer to do it in a group, keep it as a solitary pursuit or enlist the help of one exercise buddy. You know yourself and what is more likely to keep you motivated.

 

For more support and advice, head back to our dedicated menopause guide

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