How Exercise Can Improve Your Menopausal Years
Although running around the block won’t relieve your hot flashes, it could help you cope with them better. Experts agree that exercise isn’t a cure-all for your menopausal symptoms, but it does target the roots of some discomforts, and it sets the stage for better days, weeks and years to come.
A well-rounded exercise routine during menopause is pretty powerful when it comes to health and longevity, but the complex changes of menopause do call for a careful approach to workouts. In the end, the better you can predict and prepare for possible challenges, the more you can get from your active lifestyle.
The Importance of Exercise during Menopause and Beyond
Once you enter menopause, your risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and other chronic illnesses tends to climb rather abruptly. In turn, doctors recommended some swift and permanent lifestyle changes, including regular exercise. While regular activity can keep cardiac and metabolic conditions at bay, it can also bring more immediate benefits for your body and mind:
- Muscle and bone maintenance. Once you transition into menopause and your estrogen levels drop, your bones and muscles begin to weaken. In fact, loss of strength in postmenopausal women is a major concern; together with oxidative stress and inflammation arising from other conditions, the decline in estrogen could leave you vulnerable to injury and disease.Exercise builds muscle and maintains strength, which will certainly help to counteract your hormone-related muscle loss. Weight bearing exercise can also help protect your bone density, and since osteoporosis becomes a major health risk for women after menopause, weight lifting and resistance training can be an important preventative measure.
- Stress relief. For most women dealing with the varied discomforts of perimenopause and menopause, less stress can mean a big improvement in quality of life. Stress generally increases as menopause approaches, and your body releases more cortisol and adrenalin in response. Too much of these stress hormones can lead to insomnia, weight gain, and even heart disease and depression, but when you exercise your body releases calming endorphins, and you can begin to enjoy a positive, balanced mood.
- Better sleep quality. Insomnia, night sweats, and restless sleep are common complaints during menopause, and they can contribute to more severe conditions, like depression, anxiety, and obstructive sleep apnea. Fluctuating hormones are to blame, and while you can’t change those levels (without HRT), exercise can make a significant difference in your quality of sleep: studies show that 150 minutes of exercise each week can improve sleep quality by up to 65%, and decrease some related discomforts, like leg cramps.
Next page: workouts for menopausal women.