Menopause Exercise

Table of Contents

Menopause is a biological phase in a woman’s life that denotes the end of her reproductive years. While a significant milestone, it can also bring about various uncomfortable symptoms, including hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, and reduced bone density. While hormone therapy and medications are available for managing these symptoms, many women are now turning to exercise as a natural and holistic approach to finding relief during menopause. In this article, we will explore the advantages of exercise for menopause relief and provide practical tips for including exercise in your daily routine.

Menopause Exercise Benefits

  1. Regulating Hormones: Regular exercise has been found to help regulate hormonal imbalances that occur during menopause. Physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins, often called “feel-good” hormones, which can help improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Additionally, exercise can increase the production of estrogen, which can help relieve symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
  2. Managing Weight: Weight gain is a common concern for women during menopause. Hormonal changes can lead to a gain in abdominal fat and a reduction in muscle mass. Regular exercise, particularly strength training, and aerobic exercises, can help manage weight and prevent the accumulation of excess body fat. Strength training exercises, in particular, can help build lean muscle mass, boosting metabolism and increasing calorie burning even at rest.
  3. Enhancing Bone Health: Menopause is often associated with a decrease in bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, dancing, and weightlifting can help stimulate bone growth and improve bone density. These activities place stress on the bones, prompting them to become stronger and denser over time. Regular weight-bearing exercises can significantly reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, providing long-term benefits for women during and after menopause.
  4. Improving Sleep Quality: Sleep disturbances are common during menopause, with many women experiencing insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns. Regular exercise can help enhance sleep quality by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, which often contribute to sleep problems. Involving in physical activity earlier in the day, rather than close to bedtime, is recommended to allow the body and mind to relax before sleep.
  5. Boosting Cardiovascular Health: Estrogen plays a protective role in cardiovascular health, and its decline during menopause increases the risk of heart disease. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercises like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing, can improve cardiovascular health by supporting the heart and lowering blood pressure. Exercise also supports maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and improves blood circulation, reducing the risk of heart-related conditions.
  6. Managing Hot Flashes and Night Sweats: Regular physical activity can help decrease the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats. Exercise promotes better body temperature regulation, increases blood circulation, and improves overall cardiovascular health, making menopausal symptoms more manageable.
  7. Mood Improvement: Menopause is often associated with mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Exercise plays a crucial role in releasing endorphins. These “feel-good” hormones can significantly enhance mood, reduce stress, and improve overall mental well-being.

Incorporating Exercise into Your Daily Routine

  1. Choose Activities You Enjoy: To maintain consistency, select exercises that you find enjoyable and sustainable. Whether walking in nature, joining a dance class, swimming, or practicing yoga, finding activities that please you will increase the likelihood of sticking with them long-term.
  2. Set Realistic Goals: Start with short, achievable goals and gradually improve the duration and intensity of your workouts. This approach will prevent burnout and minimize the risk of injury. Aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, in addition to strength training exercises twice a week.
  3. Prioritize Strength Training: Include strength training exercises in your routine to improve muscle strength, bone density, and metabolism. Concentrate on exercises that target major muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and weightlifting. Begin with light weights or resistance bands and gradually increase the intensity as your strength improves.
  4. Find an Exercise Buddy: Exercising with a friend or joining a group class can provide social support and accountability, making your workouts more enjoyable and consistent. It also allows connecting with others going through similar life stages.
  5. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s cues and adjust your exercise routine accordingly. Menopause can change energy levels and recovery time, so it’s essential to rest when needed and avoid overexertion. Stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothing, and use proper footwear to support your joints and minimize discomfort.
  6. Practice Self-Care: Don’t forget to warm up before exercising and cool down afterward. Stretching exercises, yoga, and meditation can also aid in relaxation and stress reduction.

Exercise offers a myriad of benefits for women seeking relief during menopause. From hormone regulation to weight management, bone health, improved sleep quality, and cardiovascular health, regular physical activity can significantly alleviate menopausal symptoms and improve overall well-being. By incorporating exercise into your daily routine and prioritizing it, you can embrace this life transition with greater vitality and resilience. Remember to consult your healthcare experts before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns.

Here we discuss this with Anja Lineen, a fitness trainer, to get her thoughts on this topic.

Best Exercises during Menopause

NourishDoc: What are the best exercises for women during the menopausal period? 

Fitness Trainer Anja: Strength work becomes important because of our bone density and muscle mass. So doing any kind of resistance can be running, boxing, Pilates with the weight, the bodyweight exercises. Anything that pushes and pulls on your bones and engages your muscles will be great for bone density and muscle mass. 

Yoga for a bit of that sort of relaxation; yoga gives a lot of what Pilates can offer. We then still want to do a little bit of cardio exercise. So whether that’s running, swimming, biking, riding, dancing, or whatever you enjoy, that’s good for your heart health. You won’t end up bulky by building your muscle mass, but you’ll have that strength, which is also great for your metabolism.

Pelvic muscle exercises

NourishDoc: Exercises for pelvic muscles

Fitness Trainer Anja: Pilates is traditionally good for a pelvic floor; the pelvic floor is roughly the size of your thumbs in your fingers. And it sits from your pubic bone at the front to your tailbone at the back, and we need to activate that whole muscle. So we also want to think about holding on to gas to activate the whole muscle and lift that up and in. And I’ve found that the bar classes have been fantastic. 

The bar has been around for a few years, but it’s based on ballet moves; we use a ballet bar, hence the name. But a lot of it’s about posture, and just by elongation yourself and standing taller. And you know, it’s a muscle like any other if we keep pushing down on it, it’s going to weak, whether you’ve had children or not, once you’re going through menopause, and you’re having those hormonal changes, that pelvic floor can be affected. So it’s not necessarily just through pregnancy that it gets weaker. So bar Pilates is good for strengthening that pelvic floor and engaging.

Different Menopause Exercises

NourishDoc: Explain the different types of exercises.

Fitness Trainer Anja: The best exercises are the ones you stick to. So when you’re going to do but look, I like to mix it up so your legs have got really big muscles. They’re easy to exercise. As with squats and lunges, as long as your pelvis is okay because lunging, we tend to do a single leg forward and back. So as long as we don’t have any pelvic issues, the wide squats, because we start opening up the hips a little bit. 

By being able to open up the hips a bit, and this is where buyers are good as well because we do those, the plays and lifting the legs to the sides gives us more mobility through the hip area. So I find that helpful as we age; we often stiffen slightly. So by opening up and doing the stretching out to the sides, as well as the forward and back motion, that helps keep us mobile and be able to sort of turn and pick something up or, you know, reach up into a cupboard, or those functional things that it’s important to have that mobility for. So yeah, Pilates and the bar can also be good for those.

Pelvic Muscles & Hormonal Fluctuations

NourishDoc: What happens to pelvic muscles because the hormones go down

Fitness Trainer Anja: It happens all through our cycles because that’s once you start having your period and go through that hormonal cycle each month. And as you go through your cycle, the hormones increase, and those muscles soften. So you’ll be at certain times of the month; it’s just harder to engage that pelvic floor and keep it switched on. 

And then at other times, once the hormones have fluctuated again because that’s what’s causing all our pair menopausal symptoms. Anyway, it’s those hormones doing this up and down. And the more we can sort of even it out, the fewer symptoms we get. But yeah, it’s those hormonal fluctuations that are impacting the pelvic floor. And as I said, that happens throughout the month when you have your regular cycle. But that gets exacerbated during perimenopause and menopause if you have those big fluctuations.


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