Exercise – Keeping Fit; Menopause as a signal to strengthen your body

It’s hit: menopause. For some, she gently glides in like an elegant dancer. For others, she stomps in like a possessed specter; hollering, kicking and flicking off — albeit spasmodically — your sanity playbook.

The inevitable break in the fertility cycle is easy for some. You might squeal with delight: No more periods. No more accidental bleeding on the sofa… No more menstrual pain, ruined undies, or the need to actively prevent unwanted pregnancy. But at the same time contraceptive freedom descends, you might find yourself struggling.

The notion that our fertile years are over can be tough mentally. The hormonal flux that accompanies it worse on our bodies Our moods can behave erratically; like feelings-fueled freight trains… without a qualified driver. Your body might feel like she’s packed up and gone to the devil. (She hasn’t. You are simply in a metamorphosis, shedding the trappings of youth for the wisdom and independence of a beautiful, mature stage).

But while menopause can be challenging, it is also a vital reminder: You need to take good care of your body. Remaining fit and staying strong is critical.

So…

How does the body change as we, women, age?

For many women, our boobs drop, muscles flee, vagina dries, joints hurt, energy and libido exit, our bellies and bottoms expand, and the risk of illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis mount. Oh, and those hot flashes and night sweats! Once experienced, the fiery internal heat and the external proof of its presence stick in the mind!

Some menopausal women tell me they feel like their body has been hijacked. It sounds — and can feel — like murderous mayhem. But it doesn’t need to be…

Regardless of the gentleness or brutality of your menopausal transition, nature provides us with an answer: Exercise.

Here’s how…

Exercise: A potion for menopausal mental and physical fitness

While mum.s too often the word when it comes to menopause, and the mainstream medical system often seems to be clueless, Mother Nature does offer hope and help. Physical activity acts as therapy for the menopausal soul.

Constipated? What goes in, must come out, but in menopause it can do so slowly. Constipation is a common complaint. Yet hitting the road three times each week for a gentle, uphill one-hour stroll clears the digestive pipes. As a welcomed side effect, we feel better about our lives. In purging our gut, we rid more than just pent-up poop.

Regain your mental equilibrium. The unpredictable hormonal and life fluxes that accompany midlife can push us off balance. Anxiety, depression and mood swings are run-of-the-mill. But regular Yoga sessions and walking tips the balance in our favor. The fitness gains boost a positive mood, reduce negative feelings, and help us fall in love with life again.

Boost your self-esteem. How you feel about yourself as a woman has a huge impact on your daily life. So menopause can pull the rug from beneath your six-inch heels. If you find yourself sinking, regular physical activity can reverse the descent. Research shows that as we move more and our fitness increases, our self-esteem follows suit.

Sick of hot flashes and night sweats? As Spice of Life quipped, “When I asked for a smoking hot body, menopause was not quite what I had in mind!” If you’re often on fire, aerobic exercise can improve your mental health, how you feel about your symptoms, and can possibly douse the flames. Again, Yoga and walking take the cake.

Sagging muscles, softening bones and surging waistline? When we reach menopause, lean muscle mass can diminish. Bone weakness can settle in. Fatty deposits may multiply. Wonderfully, though, resistance training comes to the rescue. By hitting the gym we strengthen our muscles and our bones, improve hormonal changes — like insulin resistance — that trigger tummy fat accumulation, and lessen the risk of menopause-induced disease.

So now you know there is magic in movement, the question arises: How?

Firstly, remember you are a capable woman, not a shrinking flower! You’ve successfully navigated decades to get here. You deserve to exercise without feeling self-conscious. And you can do so safely.

Next, as an article published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology International said, an exercise program should be tailored “depending on the needs, preferences, and limitations of women particularly in relation with musculoskeletal system and cardiovascular suitability.”

Chat to your healthcare professional, start gently and build up, and do what you enjoy. Zumba. Yoga. Walking. Jogging. Kickboxing. Aqua classes. Weight lifting. Dancing… Keeping fit is critical for women especially at midlife so use menopause as a reminder to take great care of your body, mind and soul.