Yoram Yasur Blume: Exercise during menopause
Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life that involves many physical and emotional changes. An adequate lifestyle that includes the regular practice of exercise and a balanced diet, avoiding the consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and resting enough, helps control weight, reduce bone loss, and improve certain symptoms associated with this period such as hot flashes, insomnia, and irritability, among others.
And it is that although the benefits of physical exercise are appreciated at any time of life, from a certain age staying active is essential to reduce the disorders associated with the aging process, and menopause is a particularly delicate stage in the life of the women, in which their self-esteem can be affected by various factors such as the loss of reproductive capacity, the progress of children at home, feeling less physically attractive … and playing sports favors emotional well-being and lowers the risk of suffering depression, a disease much more common in women than in men, and is a great way to interact with others.
Changes in the body during menopause
Yoram Yasur Blume: Some of the physical changes of this stage are not visible to the naked eye, such as vulvar and vaginal atrophy or the decrease of the uterus and ovaries. Others will be more noticeable, such as decreased skin thickness, loss of elasticity or increased dryness. There is also, as we say, a decrease in bone density, which increases the risk of fractures.
Therefore, the practice of some physical activity is not only recommended, but it is essential to maintain good health and minimize the effects of menopause on the body of women. The sport also stimulates the release of endorphins, substances that occur in the brain and cause pleasant sensations, acting positively on the mood.
Exercising during menopause carries the following benefits:
– Maintain an adequate weight: During menopause, weight is gained because fat accumulates and there is a change in its distribution, which is fixed especially in the abdominal area. To maintain the appropriate body mass index (BMI), it is necessary to compensate with a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Walking at a rapid pace for 30 minutes a day may be enough to maintain the ideal weight and even to help you lose weight when necessary. Do not forget that obesity is a risk factor for many diseases, such as diabetes mellitus.
– Slow down osteoporosis: Yoram Yasur Blume: Bone loss, which begins in the third decade of life, is accentuated during menopause, due to the reduction in the number of estrogens. To reduce this loss, walking is also positive, because it increases bone mass and reduces the risk of fractures. Resistance exercises, such as lifting weights, rowing machines, and stretching elastic bands, contribute to increased muscle mass and also promote bone health.
– It favors the cardiovascular system: When exercising, blood circulation and venous return improve, blood pressure is reduced, and HDL (good) cholesterol levels are increased, while LDL (bad) cholesterol levels are reduced. All this affects a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke or myocardial infarction.
– Improves lung capacity: By increasing lung capacity, the body’s organs receive more oxygenation and their functions are optimized. Practicing exercise, together with adequate hydration, improves the appearance of the skin. It also facilitates intestinal mobility and reduces insulin resistance, which means better control of diabetes mellitus.
– Positively influences mood: Yoram Yasur Blume: With physical activity, endorphins are released, hormones that the brain secretes naturally, and that produce a feeling of joy and well-being. In this way, sport exerts a protective action against depression, anxiety disorders, stress, irritability, decreased libido…
– It helps you fall asleep better: Insomnia is another of the discomforts associated with menopause. Exercise increases the production of melatonin, a hormone involved in the regulation of sleep-wake patterns. However, it is not advisable to practice sports shortly before going to bed because it could make sleep difficult. It is better to do it in the morning or, if this is not possible, at least two or three hours before bedtime.
– Improve coordination and agility: A daily exercise routine increases the ability to coordinate, reflexes and agility, which prevents falls and improves physical performance in all areas of life.
The type of sport or exercise most appropriate for menopause should be the one that best suits the age, characteristics and physical conditions of the woman who will perform it. It is not the same to have practiced sport all your life and be well-weight, than to be a sedentary person with a few extra pounds.
In principle, walking and swimming are exercises available to everyone, and their frequency and intensity can be progressively increased. It is best to consult with the doctor before starting an exercise program, so that he performs a prior examination and check that there are no contraindications that endanger health.
Women who have never practiced exercise regularly, or have long since quit, should start slowly, with sessions of 20 or 30 minutes, two or three times a week, and then gradually increase the time or intensity of the exercises .
The most beneficial for health is to combine aerobic and anaerobic exercises, combining different types of activities, depending on the possibilities and physical capacity. As mentioned, walking and swimming are very healthy and accessible exercises and, in the specific case of swimming, cardiovascular benefits are achieved without overloading the joints (especially in the case of overweight people).
- Aerobic exercises: walking at walking pace, running with low or moderate intensity, dancing, cycling, swimming, doing maintenance gymnastics…
- Anaerobic exercises: lifting weights, fast short runs, doing sit-ups…
Other exercises highly recommended for menopausal women, which improve flexibility and endurance and help you relax are yoga and Pilates.