If you are a woman in your late 30s, 40s or 50s. If you are approaching Peri-Menopause and Menopause. And if you’re wondering what exercise you should be doing, this is for you.
Peri-Menopause vs Menopause
Let’s start by making a quick distinction between Peri-Menopause and Menopause as many people have not heard of Peri-Menopause, and many others think Menopause isn’t something to really worry about until after a woman turns 50.
- Peri-menopause – Is a sequence of hormonal events that lead up to your last period. It typically starts in a woman’s 40s, but may also occur in a woman’s 30s. On average this process takes four to six years, but can be shorter, or last more than 10 years.
- Menopause – Is technically one day in a woman’s life that occurs 12 months after her last period. The average age of menopause falls between 48 and 52 years old, though it can happen earlier..
1. Prioritize Strength Training
Technically speaking we want to meet these 3 pillars of movement for good health. More specifically though, prioritizing strength training by incorporating strength and/or weight-bearing exercises 2-3 times a week is important at this stage of life. Why? because peri-menopause often accelerates conditions like sarcopenia (age-associated muscle loss) and osteopenia (age-associated bone loss), which can seriously impact your functional capacity, mobility, and vitality. The good news is that regular strength training, combined with adequate protein intake, can reduce the risk of these conditions.
Just to be clear, prioritizing strength training doesn’t mean neglecting every other form of exercises (like cardio or core work). Ideally your routine should involve a combination of the following:
- Functional full-body strength exercises. This includes things like Squats, Deadlifts and Rows. We personally love and provide strength workouts that include the 7 fundamental patterns of human movement, plus incorporate elements of balance and coordination.
- High-impact exercises. This includes things like squat jumps, box jumps and lateral leaps. It’s crucial to consider YOUR physical condition and injury status when including these in your training. Lower-impact traditional strength training exercises may be the better option for some.
- Cardio exercises. This could include things like boxing, cycling, jogging or fast steppers. Typically cardio may be better done at a more moderate intensity to avoid exacerbating stress symptoms due to hormonal changes – especially if you don’t plan/allow for adequate recovery (ie. rest and nutrition).
- Core and pelvic floor exercises. This includes things like dead bugs, plank taps and pallof press. The onset of menopause can cause pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that support your pelvic organs) to weaken. Which can result in pelvic floor problems (like urinary incontinence). Core and pelvic floor exercises are therefore important.
- Mobility exercises. This includes things like Hip Switches, scapula push ups, book openers and squat prys. Our mobility can begin to suffer as we age due to a decrease in the lubricating fluid inside your joints and thinning of cartilage. Warm-ups and cool downs that incorporate mobility exercises are therefore important.
2. Increase Your General Daily Movement
Even if you exercise a few times a week, it’s crucial to embrace low-to-moderate-intensity movement in your daily life. This type of movement provides a multitude of benefits, including:
- Improved cardiovascular health and longevity.
- Enhanced recovery from more intense exercise.
- Reduced stress and overall physical and emotional well-being.
Examples of low-to-moderate-intensity exercises include walking, biking, swimming, and dancing. Aim to keep your heart rate below 140–150 beats per minute, a level at which you can still hold a conversation in full sentences.
To gauge your effort, you can use the “talk test” — meaning at this intensity, you should feel challenged but still be able to talk in complete sentences. This will ensure this movement is enhancing your recovery instead of over-stressing your body. Plus, it won’t increase hunger or appetite like lots of high-intensity cardio can.
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