Wendy Hoffman blogs about menopause and women's health—particularly focusing on how diet and nutrition can positively affect a woman's life around the age of menopause.See all posts »
The Miracle Treatment That Makes Menopause Easier
What do you think is the single best thing that you can do for your health? Eat more fruits and vegetables? Get eight hours of sleep every night? How about taking a daily multivitamin? All those things are good to do, of course, but Dr. Mike Evans, a Toronto based doctor and professor, has found that one treatment in particular has been shown in studies, over and over again, to consistently improve quality of life and reduce or prevent most ills when taken on a regular basis.
Consider these findings:
1. Post-menopausal women who had four hours a week of this treatment had a 41 percent reduction in the risk of hip fracture.
2. This treatment reduced anxiety, a common complaint of menopausal women, by 48 percent in a big meta-analysis.
3. In patients suffering from depression, which women are most vulnerable to during times of hormonal fluctuation, 30 percent were relieved with just a low dose of this medicine, which was bumped to 47 percent as the dose was increased.
Can you guess what this miracle drug is?
(Drum roll....) Itʼs EXERCISE! And even thirty minutes a day is meaningful, says Dr. Evans. “The best thing you can do for your health is to spend half an hour being active...maybe an hour,” Dr. Evans explained in a very engaging, visual lecture that you can see on his You Tube Channel. “If you do that, youʼll be able to realize all the benefits Iʼve described.” What Dr. Evans didnʼt address specifically in his presentation is just how important exercise is for women during the menopause years, when declining estrogen causes loss of bone density and muscle mass, especially at the onset of menopause. Daily exercise is essential to staying fit and strong, which is important for preventing osteoporosis as we age.
How to reap the benefits
But it doesnʼt take an hour at the gym to reap the health benefits of exercise. Dr. Evans said walking, even for just a half hour a day, will give you “the best return on your investment.” He points to the Nurses Health Study, one of the longest running investigations of factors that influence womenʼs health, as evidence. That study found that women who went from no activity to just one hour a week reduced their heartdisease rates by half. So, if you find these statistics motivating, but youʼre pressed for time, do you have a spare 15 minutes or even just 10 for some quick exercise? If thatʼs the case, I have three suggestions to help you create a new habit of daily exercise. They involve muscle strengthening, cardio fitness and flexibility -- all important for mid-life women. They can be done on alternate days when youʼre not walking!
Ideas to get you moving
First, let me introduce you to Joan Pagano, a leading authority on womenʼs fitness, whoʼs often referred to as the “trainer of trainers.” She shares her advice for staying fit and strong during the menopause years in several of her books. But one in particular, The 15 Minute Total Body Workout might be the best choice for someone who needs a structured program for a short window of time. Her book features four unique programs and includes a DVD to guide you through them.
They can be done in your home with little or no equipment.
For those who like working with an exercise ball, I found a terrific website that offers a free video series showing you the basics of how to get the most out of this simple piece of equipment. They also feature a short video that demonstrates five different 10-minute workout routines. Finally, a great place to find exercises that you can do at home is the website of The American Council on Exercise (ACE), the organization that certifies trainers. They offer a wonderful library of exercises that you can search for by level of fitness, which muscle group you want to target, and what equipment (if any) you need. They are all illustrated with photographs and are accompanied by step-by-step explanations. These are just a few examples of excellent resources for exercise instruction that you can find on the web. Iʼve listed additional, wallet-friendly resources on my website at Menopause- The Blog.