The menopause is a natural part of ageing, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55. Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly.
The menopause can affect us in a number of ways, both in the years leading up to our last period, known as the perimenopause – and for some time afterwards. The symptoms tend to last for an average of four years.
Menopausal symptoms can include exhaustion, weight gain, depression, anxiety, loss of bone mass, hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia.
While training regularly doesn’t prevent the symptoms of menopause, it can ease the transition by helping to relieve stress and enhance your overall quality of life.
Menopause can make you feel exhausted, when you’re exhausted, the last thing you want to do is train. However, when we exercise, our body releases endorphins. Endorphins are our body’s natural hormones. These endorphins interact with the receptors in the brain that reduce our perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body!
Exercise also boosts our cardiovascular health, which allows you to have greater endurance throughout the day. When it’s easier to do your daily activities, you’ll have energy leftover and not feel so tired when work is done.
Prevent weight gain
Regular exercise is also an excellent way to prevent weight gain and loss of muscle mass, which are two symptoms of menopause. Menopause weight gain can have serious implications for your health and can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Most healthy women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week.
Not only is cardiovascular exercise great for weight management, but it also delivers a potent rush of endorphins, which can be super helpful in fighting menopause-related depression or anxiety.
Depression and Anxiety
Exercise is a great depression fighter for many reasons. It promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. As mentioned previously it also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energise your spirits and make you feel good.
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It can relieve tension and stress, boost your physical and mental energy, and enhance well-being.
During menopause, your body’s production of oestrogen slows to a near-halt, which leads to a loss of bone mass and can increase your risk for osteoporosis.
Because osteoporosis risk increases following menopause, strength training is especially important. Strength training can increase bone density and slow bone loss, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
Exercise allows you to get a better night’s rest, when you get high-quality sleep, you feel more refreshed during the day. A study published in April 2015 in the Journal of Sleep Research looked at individuals with insomnia who engaged in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity spread over the course of a week.
Researchers found that this amount of physical activity was associated not only with a significant reduction in the severity of insomnia symptoms, but an elevated mood as well.
There’s no reason why your workouts need to stop after menopause starts. In fact, continuing to work out during menopause is one of the best things you can do for your body, your mind, and your overall health. Consistent exercise during menopause is a must if you want to feel your best!
If you want to start your fitness journey, then please do get in touch today!
Written by Natalie Evans, Junior Coach at Intent91.