The journey from perimenopause to post-menopause brings a unique
set of physiological changes and challenges for women looking to
keep healthy and fit.
Common symptoms often endured during this journey include; brain
fog; hot flushes; middle age spread; low mood and anxiety; insomnia
and fatigue; joint and muscle pain… the list goes on. Therefore,
exercise strategies that can help us keep healthy during this
journey, can only be a good thing right?
'It's the Menopause!' is a statement often flippantly banded
about when we talk about changes in 'women of a certain age' but do
we know what the word menopause really means? The word Menopause
refers to the point in the menopausal timeline when a woman has not
had a period for at least 12 consecutive months, on average this
can occur between 50 to 55 years of age. However, our genetics,
environment, ethnicity and smoking can all have an effect on
exactly when and how menopause can occur.
Between 2 to 8 years prior to the onset of menopause, our ovarian
function and hormone levels undergo enormous changes. This is known
as Peri-menopause and many woman during this time may notice
changes such as irregular periods; hot flushes; worsening PMS
symptoms; fatigue and heightened anxiety.
Whereas Post-menopause is the time after menopause has occurred,
when our oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other hormones
levels are considerably reduced. Women on average spend at least 30
years of their life, Post-menopause, so it is definitely worth
considering with respect to our health.
So how can exercise help?
The physiology of menopause can affect a woman's strength and
functional capacity, metabolic health, brain health and recovery.
Exercise can be one of the most powerful tools to alleviate, and in
some cases even reverse, the most serious physiological impacts of
The fluctuation and eventual drop in a woman's oestrogen levels
can often accelerate things that occur naturally as we mature, such
as the loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia); the decrease in bone
density, resulting higher risk of osteoporosis; the ability of our
muscles to contract and our joints to accommodate a full range of
motion, exacerbated by joint pain. Therefore,mobility and
flexibilityexercises can help alleviate joint pain and are
fundamental in keeping us mobile.
Oestrogen has a protective effect on our cardiovascular system.
As oestrogen levels decline in menopause, we are at heightened risk
of heart disease. Often the menopause is associated with weight
gain, the dreaded "middle age spread". Exercise forHeart healthis
vital as if weight gain goes unchecked it can lead to obesity,
substantially increasing our risk of heart disease, diabetes and
The menopause is a time in our life when we need to preserve
muscle mass, so losing fat by incorporatingstrengthtraining into a
regular exercise program, combined with a well-balanced diet is
proven to be far more beneficial than low calorie dieting.
According to the reports of some women, "hot flushes" and "night
sweats" can be alleviated by exercise and thus improve our sleep
patterns. None of us feel our best after a rotten night's sleep.
Add to that; heightened anxiety; loss of self-confidence; low mood
and 'brain fog', highlights why we need to ensure we take time to
look after our "brain health". The good news is, exercise enhances
ourmoodby boosting metabolites such as serotonin and endorphins in
All exercise is known to promote good 'brain health', from a
walk outside in the countryside with a friend; a relaxing mind and
body exercise class; a weight session in the gym; a refreshing swim
in the sea; a jog in the park or a run on the treadmill... it's
just about finding the ones that work for you.
So which type of exercise should I be doing? Below is a list of
different types of physical activity that I suggest can be
beneficial for women as they navigate through the menopause.
For Mobility and Flexibility
● Ambient Stretch
● T'ai chi and other martial arts
For the Heart
● Hill walking
● Spin classes
● Using a treadmill or rowing machine or cross trainer
● Total Tone classes
● Les Mills Core
● Resistance training using your own body weight and resistance
● Weight Lifting
● Circuit training
● Body pump or Muscle Pump classes
● Ambient Stretch
● Mind and body classes
● Exercising with friends
● Team sports
● Exercising outside
Before embarking on a new exercise regime it is always important
to make sure you are medically clear to go, so it is worth
consulting your doctor. If you want to try a new form of exercise,
please ensure your technique and body position is correct, so you
can avoid injury. The best way to do that is to join a fitness
class led by a qualified fitness instructor; join a recognised
sports club; get advice from the qualified instructors in the Gym,
or hire a personal trainer. At Active all staff in the Gym are
qualified fitness instructors and will be able to help point you in
the right direction.
Recommendations on how much exercise is enough vary but I am a
strong believer that something is better than nothing at all. Words
my fitness class members often hear me say is "movement is
medicine", and I firmly believe that.
Some days, certain types of exercise may really not appeal
depending on how menopausal symptoms are making you feel, so adapt
your exercise routine to fit in with your lifestyle so that it
feels fun and not a chore. It is never too late to start or try a
new form of exercise. Give it a go and see what a difference
regular exercise can do to your body, mood and overall wellbeing as
you navigate through perimenopause, menopause and beyond, into a
new chapter in your life.
This article was written by qualified Fitness Instruction and
Adult education Tutor Lisa Troy. Lisa teaches the popular
Active fitness classes Ambient Stretch and Total Tone. References;
'Fitpro in Exercise Strategy for Perimenopause to Post Menopause
course' presented by accredited Austrailain exercise physiologist
Marcelle Malan 'Natural Menopause'. Consultant Editor Anne
Henderson MA MRCOG. Published by Dorling Kindersley Limited in