3 exercise dos & don’ts during menopause

Eileen Durward
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03 February 2020

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about three exercise dos and dont's in the menopause.

Why exercise is important during menopause

There are a number of really good reasons why exercise is important. For one, regular exercise can help to control our weight. Regular exercise also produces chemicals that make you feel better, so this is going to have a big impact on your mood.

It also helps to keep your bones strong, which is really important because osteoporosis is a huge issue in the menopause.

Research shows that regular exercise improves your sleep. Many women don't have good sleep during the menopause. Most of us struggle at some time.

And, believe it or not, regular exercise can help the joints. And we know that joint pain is a big issue in the menopause. So, exercising sensibly and regularly can help to stabilise the joints and reduce pain and inflammation, which is absolutely great.

Can menopause affect your exercise routine?

It certainly can. There's a number of factors here. One is that motivation can practically disappear in the menopause. Many women will say to me, "I just can't be bothered to do anything. And I hate the thought of going to the gym or down to my exercise classes, all I want to do is just sit or shut myself away".

So, that's a huge one. If you don't even feel like you want to go, then getting regular exercise is going to be even more difficult. The other thing that can happen is that our symptoms can also affect our exercise regimes. You know, if you're going down the gym and you already get a bit hot and sweaty, and then you end up getting hot flushes or sweats on top of that, it can feel extra uncomfortable. And it can also be embarrassing as well if you're standing there sweating, and everyone else is okay.

The problem can also be fatigue. Again, if you are really tired, if you can hardly get out of bed in the morning, then the last thing you want to be doing is going down the gym or taking some kind of exercise class.

And joint pain, too, that's another one that can affect your exercise routine. If you are suffering from joint pain, again, doing a lot of exercise is really not going to be particularly feasible at this point.


So, the three dos that are important for exercise in the menopause.

1. Do drink plenty of water

One is drink loads of water. This is really, really important. For those of you that have been with me for a while, you'll know that water just about comes into everything. If you're doing regular exercise and you are sweating or you're getting hot, you will get dehydrated.

Falling oestrogen will also affect your body's ability to keep itself hydrated. So, if you don't drink plenty of water, you can end up being severely dehydrated after your exercise class. And you may find, then, that your symptoms get worse, either during the night or the following day, just due to the dehydration.

We have a lovely supplement called Balance Mineral Drink, which contains things like magnesium, calcium and potassium. And these are really good for replacing the electrolytes that are lost when you're exercising, and I find now that it's really good.

I use one myself, or even just half of one, after an exercise class. And that keeps my energy levels up until I can get home and get something to eat, so it's certainly worth trying.

2. Do rest & recover properly

Give yourself plenty of time to rest and recuperate. What happens here is so many women, in the rush to try and either control their weight or lose weight, are exercising every single night.

In the menopause, your body is already having to focus on so many different things. And, if you then push it that little bit harder, you're not going to get the best results from your exercise. So, normally, what we say is – if you do serious exercise, then you rest the next day.

By this, I mean, you don't do another exercise class. Keep active by all means, maybe go for a gentle walk or do some stretching. But, if you keep pushing yourself every day, your body is not going to recuperate enough, and that could then lead to fatigue.

3. Do find an exercise that you enjoy

And the other one is find something you enjoy.

Again, if your motivation is slipping a little bit, you know, it can really be hard to get yourself down to the class. So, go for exercises that help to lift you up, that help to make you feel better.

Maybe go with a group of friends, and then you can all encourage each other to go, and that can give that little bit of extra enjoyment as well.


The don'ts now. The three don'ts in exercise in the menopause:

1. Don't overdo it

Now, I've mentioned this before about rest and recuperation. If you do too much, then your body thinks that there is a serious energy crisis going on and it will slow your metabolism down.

So, that means any benefits of trying to maintain or lose weight during your exercise class are going to be completely lost. And, secondly, if you keep pushing yourself, if you keep forcing yourself to go to exercise classes, then what will happen is that you can get fatigued.

Your body will just go, "No, I have no energy left for this". And you might find that you're so tired that you literally can't get out the door. So, this is a really important one. Pace yourself well when you're doing these particular exercises.

2. Don't just do one routine exercise or set of exercises

In the menopause, in order to keep your body functioning well, you need to look at different areas.

So, we need to look at heart health. We need to do cardio exercises, so that would be things like maybe jogging or fast walking, going swimming, dancing, or doing something like Zumba. Those are going to help promote and support heart health.

We also need to look at strength, so we need to do strength exercises to help promote bone-building and also to help keep your muscle mass.

As we get older, our muscle mass can decrease if we don't work on it. Muscles burn more energy than fat, so the more muscles you have and the better shape your muscles are in, then your metabolism is going to work that much better as well. So, for these ones, you're looking at things like kettlebells, dumbbells, even those stretchy elastic resistance bands can be really helpful as well.

The other area that we need to look at is stretching and balance. We need to stay supple as we get older because, otherwise, things like bending down and putting on your shoes, or picking something up off the floor, or reaching up in the kitchen, or even turning around to do something, can become more and more difficult. So, stretching exercises such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi, or any other stretching exercises you enjoy are really helpful.

And we also need to look at balance, too. A vast majority of women, who are post menopause, who end up falling and breaking their hip or fracturing other bones, the majority of them do so because they have lost their balance.

Even something simple, again, like turning round, bending down, going down steps, all of these things – if your balance is not particularly good, then you could be more prone to falls later on in life.

3. Don’t dive straight in without a plan

If you decide to start an exercise regime and you haven't been doing one, then please start slowly and plan it well. If you jump into it too quickly, you can end up getting really sore and you can also end up damaging your muscles, ligaments, tendons, or joints.

I joined a gym about four years ago. And I just rushed in there, did as much as I could the first lesson just to prove to myself that I was still fit, and I couldn't walk up and down stairs for about three or four days. I was in such pain.

So, it's really important here to start exercises slowly, work at your own pace and just slowly increase things as you start to get that little bit fitter. And you will be saving yourself a lot of pain and agony.

So, I hope you enjoyed this one. If any of you have found any exercise classes or regimes helpful for you and in what way, then I would love to hear from you.

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