Menopause exercises: KEY workouts to ease symptoms and beat weight gain
Lisa Snowdon details the symptoms of her early menopause
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Menopause occurs in women when they have stopped menstruating for 12 months, while perimenopause can happen any time in the 10 years prior to menopause – typically between three and five years. This transitional time, though a rite of passage for women, often comes with an array of side effects that can be troublesome.
Though medical intervention, including hormone replacement therapy and supplements, can help ease some of these symptoms, lifestyle changes such as a regular exercise routine are also recommended.
While it may be hard to figure out which exercises are best for easing the symptoms of menopause, experts recommend focusing on strength and resistance training.
Express.co.uk spoke to the clinical advisory board for digital full-body workout program P.volve, who shared their insight into why their programme, and others similar, can be beneficial.
The board made up of obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Suman Tewari, personal trainer Dr Amy Hoover, and P.volve’s vice president of talent and training, Antonietta Vicario, explained: “Someone who is going through menopause will find value in focusing on strength training to counteract the two percent loss of muscle mass that women experience over 40, often amplified by the drop in oestrogen which redistributes body fat and can cause weight gain throughout menopause.
“Muscle mass boosts one’s metabolism which in turn allows for more caloric burn at rest, and so maintaining and building muscle after 40 and during perimenopause and menopause can help counteract some of that weight gain.”
During menopause, oestrogen can also impact bone density which can put women at greater risk of breaks, osteoporosis and sarcopenia (muscle loss).
According to Emily Servante, a personal trainer and trainer education manager at Ultimate Performance, resistance training can be the key to boosting strength and easing these symptoms.
She said: “Resistance training improves bone density and increases muscle mass.
“Resistance training has also been consistently shown to improve insulin sensitivity, especially in older populations, meaning that the body is better able to process, store and uptake carbohydrates when it needs them, rather than storing them as body fat.”
P.Volve’s team of experts added: “Menopausal women should get bone density scans and monitor risk factors to ensure they are maintaining good bone health to help reduce risk of fracture.
“The ‘Strength & Sculpt’ workouts in our library with our resistance-based equipment are essential for maintaining and improving bone density and stimulating strong, healthy bones.”
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However, keeping up a regular routine is just as important as picking the right strength training.
Charlotte Tooth, a leading trainer at TRX said: “There are many stages associated with the transition to menopause. Women face the challenge of a reduction in muscular strength, tone and bone density.
“Alongside this, the risk of heart disease increases and many women experience mental health challenges too.
“It isn’t all doom and gloom. Whilst the menopausal changes are inevitable, lifestyle and exercise can help relieve the symptoms and improve your ability to cope with them. The best approach is what works in your world, something that you feel comfortable with and will stick to.”
TRX training uses a Suspension Trainer, which can be anchored everywhere from the ceiling to a tree in the park, to help create resistance and stability exercises – often using nothing more than bodyweight.
Ms Tooth added: “Regularity is key, and remember, every person is different, so try not to feel obliged to do something that worked for somebody else if it doesn’t feel right for you.”
Muscle density and bone strength aren’t the only things that sculpting and resistance workouts, such as TRX and P.volve, can help with.
According to personal trainer Ms Servante, resistance training can also have additional benefits.
She said: “Resistance training increases metabolic rate by increasing fat-free mass, which typically drops after menopause.
“Women living through the menopause often report disturbed sleep, which resistance training has been shown to improve.”
P.volve’s team of experts also say that increasing physical movement is “essential for our bodies to be able to mobilise the excess hormones and toxins in our lymphatic system”.
Exercise, whether it is high intensity, low intensity or resistance and muscle training, can also help with some of the mental health struggles menopausal and perimenopausal women may find themselves faced with.
TRX, for example, also provides classes that can help to boost mental wellness, as well as aid physical symptoms.
Ms Tooth explained: “For the days where you need to take things down a notch, we have ‘TRX Yoga’ and ‘TRX Recovery’, which can help with symptoms of anxiety, restlessness and fatigue.”
She added: “My personal experience with exercise is that it helps hugely with mental health.
“Both myself and my female clients experience the shift of mindset, energy and mood after a training session.
“We know exercise is incredible for anxiety and depression, but it can also help you to feel capable of dealing with other areas of your life.
“My favourite saying is: ‘Make your workouts hard so life becomes easy.’”
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