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Best Ways to Exercise Throughout Menopause

Updated: 7 days ago

When we find ourselves drowning in our career and family responsibilities, exercise is often the first thing that we drop, but it is actually one of the most important aspects of self-care. Exercise impacts our mental and physical health, and a good exercise routine can help manage many of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.


Caring for my mom in her final years was a big wake-up call for me. Her sedentary lifestyle really impacted her brain and bone health, and since she passed, I have been on a mission to do things differently. Here are 5 effective ways to exercise during this time, so you too can choose to be stronger, healthier, and happier as you age.


  1. Cardiovascular Exercise: Activities like walking, hiking, cycling, and swimming boost heart health, help maintain a healthy weight, and improve mood. If you do it with a friend it can be more fun, and the benefits of social connection for better health and longevity are undisputed. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. 

  2. Strength Training: The best strength training exercises for menopause involve lifting weights, but even using resistance bands is a great way to start. Weight training helps maintain muscle mass, bone density, and metabolism, and strength training for menopause is critical to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Approximately 50% of women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture at some point in their lifetime. We can change this! Aim for two to three sessions per week. 

  3. Flexibility and Balance Exercises: Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi improve flexibility, balance, and mental well-being. These exercises can also reduce stress and help with symptoms like joint pain. Just two sessions per week can be very impactful.

  4. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest or low-intensity exercise can efficiently improve cardiovascular fitness and aid in weight management during menopause. HIIT workouts can be tailored to individual fitness levels. I incorporate these into my strength training routine.

  5. Mind-Body Activities: Practices like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and gentle stretching can help manage stress, improve sleep, and enhance overall mental health, which is crucial during menopause. Incorporating a combination of these exercise types can provide comprehensive benefits and help manage various menopausal symptoms.

  6. Pelvic Floor Exercises: Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can help manage urinary incontinence, a common issue during menopause. There are also physical therapists trained specifically for pelvic floor rehabilitation. This is a specialized form of physical therapy focused on the rehabilitation of the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that make up the pelvic floor.


My weekly exercise routine:

Monday: 1 hour strength training with HIIT

Tuesday: 1 hour yoga class

Wednesday: 2-3 hour hike

Thursday: 1 hour strength training with HIIT

Friday: 1 1/2 hour yoga class

Weekends: occasional hike or long walk with friends. We also alternate the daily dog walks.

Mornings: 20 minutes of breathwork and meditation. I love the Down Dog App for this, but I do skip this on my yoga mornings unless I am really stressed.

Bedtime: 30 minutes of meditation at bedtime. I also use Down Dog for this, but honestly, it has become a Pavlovian response for me. As soon as the recording starts I am out cold in just a few minutes now.


I have osteoarthritis in both of my knees now, so I have added isometric exercises, like wall sits, while I brush my teeth.


Tips for success:

For me, like many others, a successful exercise routine has to include accountability to others. For strength training and HIIT, I organize small group classes at my home with a trainer. My yoga classes are held in a friend's tiny home studio, so if I am not there, I will hear about it. I also started a community hiking group, so now I have others who rely on me to be there.


You can do this. Just find a routine that works for you and partner with others to improve your chances for a longer, healthier life.

 

As with any exercise, seek professional advice if you have any concerns at all.


Not medical advice

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