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Exercise for Menopause

Exercise for Menopause: Know these Do’s and Don’ts

If you are a woman in mid forties or early fifties, you may experience some uncomfortable changes. One minute you may feel perfectly comfortable, and the very next moment you may be sweating for no apparent reason. Your monthly cycles may not be regular; your body may be changing, and seemingly, you start noticing some ageing signs more prominently. The list is non-exhaustive and the changes represent “Menopause.” 

Menopause is a natural and inevitable change in a women’s life and therefore it is imperative for women to make some lifestyle changes to deal with it. Exercise should be an integral part of lifestyle modification for women undergoing menopausal transition. Besides endowing hordes of health benefits, exercise helps in having a better mind balance and empowers you to deal withmenopausal symptoms in a better way.

Benefits of Exercise during Menopause

most important, noncontroversial, and simple thing everybody can and should do is to exercise. Research indicates that women who engage in exercise while they are undergoing the menopausal transition may have some or all of the following benefits:

  • Increase in cardio respiratory function: If done regularly, it reduces the metabolic risks associated with declining estrogen. It increases HDL (good) cholesterol, reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and fibrinogen. There is additional benefit of reduced risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Create calorie deficit and minimize midlife weight gain.
  • Increase in bone mass: Strength training and impact activities (like walking or running) can help to offset the decline of bone mineral density and prevent osteoporosis.
  • May help in reducing low back pain.
  • Reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, and improve the mood.
  • May help to reduce hot flashes.

 

Menopause Friendly Exercise Prescription- (Do’s)

Step 1: Warm Up Properly

Stretch, walk on a treadmill for five minutes or go for a brisk walk to get ready for exercise. Owing to age, the body becomes less flexible, it is important to warm up the body before a work out.

Step 2: Choose the type of exercise carefully

  • The exercise program for postmenopausal women should include, endurance exercise (aerobic), strength exercise, and balance exercise

Out of these aerobics, weight bearing, and resistance exercises are all effective in increasing the bone mineral density of the spine in postmenopausal women.

  • Engage in aerobic activity that elevates the heart rate and burns fat

Whether it is a dance class, aerobics class, going for a run or a bike ride, signing up for kickboxing or taking time on an elliptical machine, each helps to benefit the large muscle groups and helps the cardiovascular function.

Step 3: Cool down after exercising

For a healthy end to the menopausal workout, cool down at the end by walking for a few minutes and stretching. This gives the body a chance to relax and promotes regular breathing and slowing of the heart rate as one finishes exercising.

One should aim for two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.

Other deep breathing, yoga, and stretching exercises can help to manage the stress of life and other menopause related symptoms.

 

What not to do (Don’ts)

Avoid high impact exercises

Exercises for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis should not include high-impact aerobics or activities in which a fall is likely, such as exercising on slippery floors or step aerobics.

When to stop exercising?

This is indeed a warning to all the women. Senior women should know how to read the signs of their body. One should make it a point not to ignore the signals of overwork, which may lead to major issues like heart attack and injury. If there is any problem while exercising, it is better to stop exercising or change the exercises.

Certain medical conditions absolutely negate exercise. These conditions include:

  • Acute progressive heart failure
  • Recent electrocardiogram changes or recent myocardial infarction
  • Third degree heart block
  • Uncontrolled arrhythmia
  • Unstable angina

Consult your health care provider (HCP) before opting for any kind of exercise, if you have any of these medical conditions:

There are the conditions that would contraindicate exercise on a case by-case basis, and should not be done unless there is medical approval. These conditions include:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Complex ventricular ectopy
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled metabolic disease
  • Valvular heart disease

Menopause is natural and inevitable, so take it as an opportunity to make healthy changes in your lifestyle, which will benefit you in the years that follow. So, grab your dose of exercise to enjoy a good quality of life even after menopause.

 

References

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Facts About Menopausal Hormone Therapy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Web. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/women/pht_facts. Accessed November 19, 2013.
  2. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Phytoestrogens and Bone Health. 2005. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Web site. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Menopause/bone_ph.... Accessed January 29, 2014.
  3. National Institute on Aging. Pills, Patches, and Shots: Can Hormones Prevent Aging?. National Institute on Aging Web site. http://www.niapublications.org/tipsheets/pills. Accessed January 29, 2014.
  4. National Institutes of Health. NIH State-of-the-Science Conference Statement on Management of Menopause-Related Symptoms. National Institutes of Health Web site. http://consensus.nih.gov/2005/2005MenopausalSymptomsSOS025PDF.pdf
  5. National Women’s Health Information Center. Menopause and Menopause Treatments. National Women’s Health Information Center Web site. http://womenshealth.gov/faq/menopause. Accessed January 29, 2014.
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Fact sheet: Menopause. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004974/. Accessed January 29, 2014.
  7. About Menopause. http://www.managingmenopause.org.au/health-professionals/about-menopause. Accessed January 29, 2014.
  8. Medline plus. Menopause. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/menopause.html. Accessed January 29, 2014.
  9. The American college of obstetricians and gynecologists. FAQ’s. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq047.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130701T.... Accessed January 29, 2014.

Nalini Mishra, V. N. Mishra and Devanshi. Exercise beyond menopause: Dos and Don’ts. J Midlife Health. 2011 Jul-Dec; 2(2): 51–56. doi: 10.4103/0976-7800.92524

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