Make exercise your friend and ease menopausal symptoms. Our experts offer their advice, from gym tips and dancing to the benefits of yoga and even the latest gadgets
If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms, it can sometimes feel as if you’ve lost control of your body – and even your mind. “The reason our periods stop is because our bodies become low on oestrogen,” explains gynaecologist Dr Heather Currie, founder of Menopause Matters. “But other consequences of low oestrogen include everything from hot flushes to low mood.”
The good news is there are things you can do to take charge again – and working up a sweat is one of them. While exercise can’t stop the menopause, Dr Currie believes it can help manage some of the symptoms.
Grab a gadget
Not on board with the trend for wearable fitness tech yet? Now could be the time to invest. “Our thermostat – the bit inside our brain that controls body temperature – goes a bit ‘wonky’ when we’re menopausal, triggered by the lack of oestrogen,” says Dr Currie.
“We have hot flushes and sweat at inappropriate times because the thermostat thinks we’re overheating when we’re not. It’s thought that if we’re overweight then our core body temperature is higher, so there’s a greater tendency towards this. Exercise helps indirectly by helping us maintain a healthy weight.”
Dr Currie believes the key here is fitting exercise, such as brisk walking, into your normal routine. Wearable tech gadgets, which measure your steps or your heart rate, may help spur you on by totting up your daily step count.
Dance with abandon
“Serotonin is a ‘feel-good’ brain chemical and we know oestrogen is involved with the action of serotonin, so that’s part of the reason low mood can be an issue when we’re menopausal,” says Dr Currie. “Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and other ‘feel good’ natural chemicals,” says personal trainer Richard Callender.
His advice? Get your groove on at a dance class. “You can let loose, enjoy the music and experience a bonding feeling from a group workout.”
Get your OM on
“In the years following menopause there’s a rapid loss in bone density,” notes Dr Currie. “However, weight-bearing exercise is good for bone density.” And yoga could be a smart choice. “Yoga involves weight-bearing exercises when you hold the weight of your body up against gravity, especially in balance poses,” notes Sarah Rush, yoga teacher at East of Eden.
“What’s more, these poses improve balance and work on our body awareness skills, which can help prevent falls as we age, reducing the risk of fractures and breaks.” No local studio? The rise of online yoga classes means you can give it a go from home. Nifty.
“Strength training among women is growing massively,” says trainer Clint Kelly from personal training centre SIX3NINE. And it’s the perfect trend to add to your fitness repertoire. “Menopausal women experience muscle atrophy (muscle loss). However, research has shown strength training can not only slow muscle atrophy but also reverse it.
“One year-long study involving post-menopausal women showed increases in lean muscle from strength training as little as twice a week,” says Kelly. He adds that research suggests the most beneficial exercises are multi-joint strength moves, such as squats, step-ups and lunges. Feel the burn.
When it comes to your beauty regime, make room for the Neovadiol range from Vichy. The skincare line is specifically designed for menopausal women to tackle the appearance of problems such as drier skin, answering your skincare needs at each stage of menopause. It leaves skin feeling plumper and looking radiant.
The ‘me’ in menopause
The menopause is different for every woman, but Neovadiol can help meet your unique skincare needs during this time. With 14 years’ research behind it, Neovadiol works to reduce the appearance of the signs of ageing that come with hormonal changes, whilst helping your skin feel intensely hydrated. Find your strength with Neovadiol, and put the ‘me’ in menopause.
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Sarah Rush teaches Gentle Yoga at East of Eden on Fridays at 2pm, and will be running a special Yoga for Menopause Workshop on Saturday October 16th.