Every woman experiences menopause differently. For some, the symptoms are mild and pass quickly. For others, it’s an explosion of hot flashes and mood swings.
The good news is you can adopt lifestyle changes to help cope with the changes occurring in your body.
Read on for some of your best bets for fitness and stress reduction during menopause.
Why exercise is important
Though frequent workouts haven’t been proven as a means of reducing menopausal symptoms, they can ease the transition by helping to relieve stress and enhance your overall quality of life.
Regular exercise is also an excellent way to stave off weight gain and loss of muscle mass, which are two frequent symptoms of menopause.
Most healthy women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Aerobic activity that makes use of your large muscle groups while keeping up your heart rate is a good thing. Your options for cardio are limitless. Almost any activity counts, for example:
The CDC recommends that beginners start with 10 minutes of light activity, slowly boosting exercise intensity as it becomes easier.
Because osteoporosis risk skyrockets following menopause (estrogen is needed to help lay down bone), strength training is especially vital. Strength training exercises will help to build bone and muscle strength, burn body fat, and rev up your metabolism.
At home, opt for dumbbells and resistance tubing. In the gym, choose from weight machines or free weights. Select a level that is heavy enough to tax your muscles in 12 repetitions and progress from there.
Yoga and meditation
As no two women experience menopause in the same way, your unique symptoms will tailor your approach to relief. Practice a relaxation technique that works for you — whether it’s deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.
Supported and restorative yoga poses may offer some relief. These poses may help calm your nerves by centering your mind. They can also help alleviate symptoms such as:
- hot flashes
Exercise shouldn’t be entirely hard work. Packing a calorie-burning cardio session into your routine can be fun and good for your body.
If running on a treadmill isn’t your thing, consider a dance class. Dance can help to build muscle and keep you flexible. Look for a style that suits you:
Elliptical or StairMaster
Don’t forget machines such as the elliptical or the StairMaster count as cardio workouts. If you don’t want to hit the pavement, hit the gym to get in your cardio sessions.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that as you enter menopause, your risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) significantly increase.
Estrogen levels, which are thought to protect your heart, drop during menopause. Knowing the risk factors and embracing a healthy lifestyle can keep your heart healthy.
Do you prefer to be around people when you work out? Join a group class at the gym.
Zumba is a popular dance program that has swept up nearly 12 million devoted fans in the past decade.
Incorporating salsa, merengue, and other Latin-inspired music, Zumba works for people of all ages. Burn calories and work your muscles, all while moving to uplifting Latin beats.
House or yard work
Halfhearted dusting doesn’t exactly count, but vigorous house or yard work that elevates your heart rate does. Vigorous house or yard work also utilizes your larger muscle groups, such as:
This form of aerobic activity will serve you well. If you’re a beginner, start with 10 minutes of light activity, slowly boosting physical intensity as it becomes easier.
Set goals to avoid frustration. Make sure your goals are:
Don’t simply declare, “I’m going to exercise more.” Tell yourself, for example:
- “I’ll walk for 30 minutes at lunch three days a week.”
- “I’ll take a group cycling class.”
- “I’ll play tennis with a friend once a week.”
Recruit a friend or your spouse as a workout buddy to help keep you motivated and accountable.
Sure, physical activity is essential, but don’t forget to exercise your creativity! Now is an optimal time to indulge in an artistic outlet.
Take a painting class or join a knitting group to engage in a creative new activity that will give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
A creative outlet will also help take your mind off annoying symptoms.
A woman’s risk for numerous medical conditions, including breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease rises during and after menopause. Working out regularly and maintaining a healthy weight can help offset these risks.
Physically, there are steps that you can take to manage certain menopausal symptoms:
- Turn down your thermostat.
- Wear light layers of clothing.
- Have a fan handy to mitigate hot flashes and night sweats.