The Importance of Exercise during Menopause

lifestyle Oct 10, 2019


Exercise is important at every stage of life and perimenopause/menopause is no exception. 


Look at your current level of activity and see if it needs improving. I know for some of you I am preaching to the converted if this is you well done and keep up the hard work. If this is not you, start from where you are at. I have often seen recruiting a friend or family member to join you and keep you accountable is a good starting place. Book in times and days to get started. This may start with just a walk around the block and later on, extends to a full day hike in the mountains. It could start with a lap or 2 swam in the local pool or a short bike ride. You may even like to sign yourself up for a charity event so you have a set date in which you need to be ready by.  


Ideally, you are looking for a combination of stretching, weights, and cardio. It may be easiest to hire a personal trainer to help customise a program specifically for you, get you started and keep you accountable. There is nothing like putting money on the table to get you moving and shaking. Exercise physiologists are a better bet if you have injuries or special needs. Exercise physiologists are both physiotherapists and personal trainers. 


One of the most important aspects of exercise is fun. This is something you will have to do regularly so find something you enjoy to do and hopefully, you will find a group of fun-loving individuals to share the experience with. Personally I have found if you find the right group, they will motivate you and keep you on track. 


Some of my favourite ways to exercise include:

  • Walking, jogging or hiking
  • Water sports such as swimming, aqua aerobics, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding
  • Cycling and spin classes (if you like to punish yourself)
  • Boot camp or CrossFit (but this isn’t for the light-hearted)
  • Dancing - all kinds 
  • Yoga, pilates, tai chi
  • Martial arts of any kind
  • Team sports like tennis, netball, softball, water polo, etc. Think about what team sports you enjoyed as a child.


The benefits of regular exercise are huge. 

  1. It is one of the best stress management tools we have available. 
  2. It helps balance out moods and is good at reducing depression and lifting moods in general. 
  3. Regulates blood sugar levels. The more muscle mass you have, the more insulin receptors you have on your muscles. This means your body can better regulate sugars.
  4. Can improve your physical appearance by helping you lose weight and tone up
  5.  It helps maintain bone mass and can help remineralise existing bone. It also strengthens cartilage, ligaments, and muscles.
  6. Improves cognitive function. Exercise produces BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF has been shown to grow new brain cells! Yes, it is possible to grow new brain cells!
  7. Better cardiac health by strengthening the muscles of your heart, improving the elasticity of blood vessels, increasing heart rate and blood flow.
  8. Better long term energy production and increased oxygenation of your tissues.
  9. Your lungs also have a workout and more oxygen is flooded into your body
  10. Reduces your risk of developing cancer. (Cancer hates lactic acid)
  11. Exercise can help delay the appearance of aging skin. Thought that might get your attention, are you moving yet?
  12. Exercise can help improve your quality and quantity of sleep. Morning exercise in particular. If you exercise late at night you may find your adrenaline levels are still raised post-exercise and this may delay your sleep onset. If this is the case for you, exercise earlier in the day.
  13. It can also reduce your perception of pain and increase your pain tolerance.
  14. Finally, it can increase your sex drive.


Just a word of warning with exercise: don’t overdo it! Excessive exercise can lead to increased stress and can also increase your risk of injury. 


In general, you need to move every day but you don’t need to work out every day.  Make it fun. I love classes as I love the energy in the room but I also like a solo run. It's my escape from daily life. So commit, recruit some friends/ or make new ones, mix it up, and have some fun.


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