Menopause and Exercise
Did You Know That Exercising Helps with Hot Flashes?
Menopause and Exercise: as if one of those wasn’t bad enough! However, we all know that exercise is good for us. It is good for our energy level, keeps the pounds in check, keeps the bones strong and helps with hot flashes and other menopause signs and symptoms.
When women get older and the hormone levels drop, a lot of negative things begin to happen to the body.
This is because estrogen and progesterone are so vital to a lot of the systems in the body and let us get away with many “sins” during the child bearing years. This protection is disappearing in menopause and exercise helps to keep the negative effects in check.
The key to menopause and exercise is to find something that is fun and at the same time gives us the exercise we need. Here are some suggestions:
Weight-bearing exercise does not have to involve major power lifting. You can use the weight of your own body to accomplish this. Basically you are using your muscles to resist gravity through activities likejogging, hiking, step aerobics, stair-climbing etc.
Certainly, weight lifting will also fit the bill. The recommendation is to do weigh bearing exercises three times a week for at least 30 min.
Research has shown that the risk of osteoporosis is lower in people who do weight bearing exercises. When I developed Osteopenia in my 40s, my doctor told me to add some weight bearing exercises to my workout. And despite “falling of the wagon” at regular intervals, I have been able to keep the Osteopenia in check with moderate weight lifting exercises and calcium supplements.
Cardio / Aerobics
Cardio or aerobic training is anything that gets your heart pumping.
Activities such as bicycling, running, jogging, power walking, stair climbers, racquet ball, step aerobics etc. all fall into this category. There are literally thousands of ways for a great cardio workout.
Cardio is necessary for at least 20 – 30 minutes 3 – 5 times a week. For maximum benefits, you need to get into the “Zone” - your training heart rate zone. The ideal zone is about 70% of your maximum heart rate. Follow the formula for calculating your heart rate zone, or buy one of the inexpensive heart rate or pulse monitors.
When is comes to menopause and exercise, interval training can’t be beaten. Interval training combines shorter bursts of high intensity workouts with longer periods of moderate intensity exercise.
For example a walking interval training routine would be:
- 2 minutes of high intensity power walking followed by 5 minutes of moderate intensity walking.
- Or you can do jogging for 2 minutes, followed by 5 minutes walking in alternate intervals for 30 minutes.
As you know, women are at increasing risk for heart disease and weight gain in menopause. And exercise such as cardio or aerobic training will keep your hearth healthy, build endurance and help you lose weight.
Pilates is all about core strength and focuses on the muscles around the middle of the body. Pilates requires a lot of concentration and focus. Additional benefits are an increase in strength, flexibility, good posture and stress relief.
It is best to have a trainer in the beginning to teach you how to do the exercises correctly but after you mastered the Pilates principles you can easily do the workouts at home.
There are Pilates studios in every town of some size and professional training is certainly a bonus to learn the Pilates principles and proper breathing techniques. After you understand what Pilates is all about you can certainly do the exercises at home.
Although there is something to be said about watching other women struggling with “the Seal” or “Rolling like a Ball”!
We are more at risk for heart disease after menopause. And exercise regimens that provide
Menopause Exercise Tips
Just a couple of brief menopause exercise tips to help you getting started:
- You don’t have to change from couch potato to exercise fanatic. However, you need to get OFF THE COUCH. Begin slowly and work up to a healthier routine.
- Buy a CD or download the program from the Internet. There are hundreds of options and you can do most of them right in your living room – with nobody watching!
- Alternatively, join a gym and try some classes. It is fun after you get over the initial embarrassment because you don’t know what in the world these people are doing. It is especially fun if you learn to outpace the “young chicks”.
- If you can spend the money, hire a personal trainer to put an exercise regimen together. You won’t believe how fast your body is going to change and how much energy you will have. It’s highly motivating – but be prepared for the muscle aches in the beginning. Start with brief walks, and just increase the distance and speed with time. It’s great to find a friend to walk with you.
- You can get some exercise CDs from the local library to check out different programs and routines. After you found something you think you would like,
Don’t believe that you are too old to start! But you have to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. It is difficult to be in menopause, and exercise routines that are fun will make the transition easier.
Remember we will probably spend ONE THIRD of our life post-menopause. Not is the time to get moving – or face the consequences when you get old
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