The benefits of physical activity during menopause.
It’s the M word every woman dreads. Menopause. Whether you’ve experienced it or not every woman has heard about this period of life, whether it be from their mother, sister, grandmother or even movies and social media. It’s commonly portrayed as the evil step sister to the reproductive period of our lives, characterised by stories of hot flushes, night sweats, fatigue and headaches.
So, what is menopause?
It’s a time during a woman’s life, usually between the ages of 45-55 years of age, when menstruation has ceased for a period of 12 months or greater. In the absence of ovulation the body fails to produce progesterone or oestrogen, two primary sex hormones. This can cause a number of side effects that you may be familiar with:
Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
Irritability and poor mood
Lack of self esteem
Aches and pains
Lack of sexual drive
Depression and Anxiety
Increased weight or central adiposity
And with all these symptoms the last thing you probably want to do is be active right?
Why becoming or remaining active during this time in your life should be a priority.
INCREASE BONE DENSITY
The lack of the female reproductive hormones, particularly oestrogen can directly impact your bone health. This is typically due to the protective role estrogen plays on our bones. This puts women at greater risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis and increases risk of fractures. (Women, we get it all right!)
BUT, participating in weight bearing and strength exercise during this time can have great effects on strengthening and maintaining bone health.
Not only this, strength exercise has also been linked to increased muscle mass, weight management and a reduced risk of falls later in life.
REDUCED WEIGHT GAIN & RISK OF CHRONIC DISEASE
Changes in hormones, along with lack of activity due to menopausal symptoms can also result in weight gain, particularly in the abdominal region. Increased abdominal or visceral fat increases a person’s risk of developing many forms of chronic disease including: heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers.
Exercise can have a powerful effect on managing not only weight, but all these risk factors through improving heart and vascular health along with increasing insulin sensitivity and regulating blood glucose levels.
BETTER PELVIC FLOOR HEALTH
As hormone levels continue to decline, there are also a number of changes that occur in the genital region. These can include thinning and reduced elasticity of the vaginal wall along with atrophy of the pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to continence concerns along with pelvic floor dysfunction. Gentle exercise targeted at strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, such as Pilates, can therefore have a positive impact on not only reducing incontinence but also the stress and anxiety that can occur with such conditions.
Ready to tame the menopausal beast?
Just a little activity everyday (at least 30 minutes) can assist with the management of menopausal symptoms and help YOU live the happiest and healthiest life YOU deserve. Not only for yourself but also for your family, partner and friends!
Abby Byrne & The Pilates HQ Team
P.S - Stay tuned for details on our upcoming Women's Health Workshop this September