Why it’s important to exercise during menopause

Dr Durward from A Vogel Talks Menopause did a great piece about 18 months ago on this.

We know that regular exercise can help to control our weight and it also produces chemicals that make you feel better, making a big impact on your mood.  It also helps to keep your bones strong, staving off osteoporosis later in life.

Research shows that regular exercise improves your sleep, a godsend if that’s a problem area for you.  And regular exercise can help the joints, although joint pain can be a big issue during menopause. But exercising sensibly and regularly can help to stabilise the joints and reduce pain and inflammation.

However, motivation can disappear in the menopause. We can’t often be bothered with so many things going on already, just wanting to be left alone, so exercising regularly can be a challenge.

The problem can also be fatigue. If you’re really tired, the last thing you want to do is exercise.

One thing to make sure you do, and Dr Durward repeats this often, is to drink plenty of water.  If you are doing regular exercise, and/or have regular hot flushes, you will get dehydrated really easily.  Falling oestrogen will also affect your body’s ability to keep itself hydrated and your symptoms can get worse just due to the dehydration.

Give yourself plenty of time to rest and recuperate.  Have days off exercising.  Your body’s already having to work hard at its new challenges.  Remain active every day, but not to intensity.  That’s no pushing.  Moderation is key. If you do too much, your body will think there’s a serious energy crisis and it will slow your metabolism down.  You could also become fatigued which will make you miserable.

And vary your exercise, which will also keep it interesting.  Do things that will raise your heartbeat, like fast walking, swimming, dancing, jogging.  Then there’s your strength work to help maintain your bones and muscles.  So things like dumbbells or some kind of weights, Dyna bands, etc.

There’s stretching and balance. So important for suppleness as we mature, and balance is all-important to prevent falls.

Whatever you decide to do, take it very, very slowly at first.  You could write yourself a programme, maybe cardio two days a week, weights two days a week, stretching and balance two days a week, or you could just rotate every three days with walking and rest days interspersed.

Dr Durward advises to work at your own pace and slowly increase as you feel better.  In the long run, this can save you a lot of pain!

I’m not a qualified clinician, dietician, or psychologist, or anything! I write based only on my own experiences, personal views, and research into menopause, and the fact that I want to help women.Please always seek the advice of a professional. Jacky Wood

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