Menopause is one of many normal, inevitable, and important transitions women go through in their lives. Typically, menopause transition occurs between the ages of 45-55 and can last between 7-14 years. This transition often comes with plenty of symptoms such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, anxiety, depression, unwanted weight gain, and just a general feeling that things are different. If these symptoms weren’t difficult enough, menopause also comes with plenty of societal stigma viewing menopause as a highly negative event that needs to be dealt with in private, stoic reserve. Understandably, this can be a difficult period for lots of women both physically and emotionally. Currently, no treatment exists that eliminates menopause symptoms, but there is something relatively simple that you can do to help reduce them, exercise!
Common Menopause Symptoms and how Exercise Can Help
Menopause could arguably be one of the most important periods of your life to exercise. Besides having the power to reduce menopause symptoms, regular exercise can also improve your longevity and quality of life. If you’re feeling like this could be too good to be true, here are some specific ways that exercise can help common menopause symptoms:
Weight gain: A common frustration of menopause is that it can slow down your metabolism making it difficult to maintain or lose weight. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and is always a good addition to any healthy weight loss program.
Anxiety and depression: You might experience changes to your emotional wellness in the form of heightened anxiety or depression. Exercise helps reduce both by helping to release anxious energy and increasing feel-good hormones to help with depression
Low self-esteem: Due to the stigma surrounding menopause, you might feel less confident and secure than you did before. Exercise offers a great confidence boost as you can physically and mentally achieve gains in strength and endurance
Heart health: a decrease in estrogen is common at the onset of menopause; which can increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol levels. It can also put you at risk for cardiac health issues. Exercise gets your heart pumping, which reduces your risk for cardiac issues, and also helps improve good cholesterol levels (in addition to a healthy, balanced diet).
The Best Types of Exercise for Menopause
To experience the greatest exercise benefits during menopause, aim for at least 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week (every day is ideal). Moderate to vigorous exercise includes a wide range of activities. Some examples of exercise activities include:
Yoga, Pilates, or barre
Brisk walking or jogging
The most important thing is to select activities that you enjoy, not activities that you think you should be doing. This will not only help boost your mood and self-esteem, but it will also help you stay consistent with your exercise habit. Besides exercise, the other important thing you need to stay consistent with is your emotional wellness.
Remember to Exercise your Emotional Wellness Too
While you battle the symptoms of menopause, you’re going to need to be prepared to battle the stigma surrounding it as well. As discussed above, exercise does help with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. However, some of these emotional symptoms can make it challenging to even want to get up and exercise, let alone go about your normal day. This makes menopause a prime time for plenty of self-love and care. According to Healthline, one of the best ways you can manage your emotional wellness and improve self-love is to meditate.
For other ideas on how to practice self-love and care, please download St. Andrew’s Family Fitness Plus’s free self-love journal, Be.YOU.tiful, by clicking here.
The stigma, the symptoms, and the changes your body goes through during menopause make it one of the most difficult transitions for women. You have the power to make it less difficult by prioritizing yourself in all-new ways through exercise and emotional wellness practices. This is another chapter of your life that you can make completely your own by leaning into what your own unique body and mind wants and needs.
If you would like help navigating your wellness plan and menopause, please fill out St. Andrews Family Fitness Plus’s online Starting Point Questionnaire by clicking here. This questionnaire is sent directly to our Fitness Director, who after careful review, will select the best personal trainer for your specific fitness and wellness needs.