Exercise to Manage Menopause?
As you age and “The Change” looms ever closer, preparing your body for the demons of menopause can help ensure optimum physical and mental health even as your risks of certain conditions increase. In other words, you can be like a cat with 9 lives! You just keep sticking around.
After menopause, women lose bone and muscle mass and gain abdominal fat at a faster rate. The risk of breast cancer increases, and women who are overweight during and after menopause are more susceptible to heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Depression can set in, and insomnia, mood swings, and migraines can become more common (Geez, it’s a wonder the male species hasn’t done away with us already). Osteoporosis is a serious condition that's more likely to strike after menopause and can put your overall health, well-being, and safety at risk.
A healthy, active body in the years leading up to menopause can vastly improve your quality of life and ensure it remains high as you meet the challenges of aging, which include a much higher risk of sustaining a serious or fatal injury during a fall due to a loss of balance, flexibility, and muscle tone. The loss of bone mass can result in a broken bone from even a minor, ground-level fall.
Here are some ways to help ensure you get — and stay — fit and trim as you head toward menopause. Use it or lose it!
Move Your Body Every Day
Thirty minutes of walking at a pace of 3.5 to 4 miles per hour most days of the week will help keep your body healthy, your bones strong, and your weight under control. If you can talk to your girlfriend while walking without breathing heavily, you’re doing it wrong. Strive for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. Try to challenge your heart daily to increase lung capacity by breaking a sweat as you work out, which indicates your heart is working extra hard.
Strengthen Your Muscles
The loss of muscle mass is a huge problem as we age (oh, that explains all the flabbiness). Maintaining strong, healthy muscles is essential for preventing injury later on, and since muscles burn more calories for fuel and increase your metabolism, staying strong can help keep extra weight off. Lift weights twice a week, or join a yoga class aimed at increasing muscle fitness. Weight-bearing exercises like yoga, dancing, tennis, or any other activity that puts more stress on bones and muscles than they normally get will help optimize bone and muscle health.
Improve Flexibility and Balance
Yoga, otherwise known as torture disguised as meditative exercising, is an ideal way to improve balance, stay flexible, and build muscle mass. It's a low-impact exercise that not only increases your fitness level, but also improves focus and reduces stress through its meditative nature. Fifteen minutes or more of yoga most days of the week will go a long way toward improving your overall fitness level.
If you do the same exercises week in and week out, you're probably missing some essential elements of fitness and you may be suffering from boredom to boot. Add circuits to your daily walk, try walking or running intervals, join a dance class, ride your bike to work, do some yoga, take a swim, learn to hula hoop, or spend quality time in the garden, (bend down and pick up the crumbs you’ve been eyeing for an hour on the kitchen floor, take the folded laundry upstairs where it actually goes, try to grab every grocery bag in one trip and walk slowly while holding your biceps in a flexed position) — the possibilities are endless, but the more you mix it up, the better your overall fitness will be.