Managing Menopause – The Power of Exercise


Summary:

Menopause is defined as a woman’s last menstrual period. A woman can go through menopause for up to 10 years with the criteria for diagnosis being that there has been no menstrual period for 12-months. Typically, women experience this transition between the ages of 45 and 55 with the average woman reaching menopause at the age of 51.

Changes

It is common for women to experience bodily changes during this trying time of their life including hot flushes, feelings of anxiety and irritability and changes in their bone density and cardiovascular health, just to name a few.

These changes in the body are typically the product of the decline of two primary hormones within the female body:

  • Oestrogen – Largely influences reproductive function, metabolism, fat storage, thermoregulation, and your response/recovery to exercise.
  • Progesterone – Largely influences mood and anxiety/irritability.

How Physical Activity Can Help

Due to the altered hormonal profile associated with menopause, women are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, bone fractures, stroke, being overweight and poorer mental health. Knowing this, it is more important than ever to understand the vital role movement and physical activity can play in the reducing the severity of symptoms associated with menopause such as the ones listed above.

The famous Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) is a 20-year follow up in post-menopausal women outlined the tremendously significant results regular physical activity can have not only on women’s physical health but also psychological health during these difficult years. The key results from the study are as follows:

  • Women who exercised >1-hour/week had a 58% increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to women exercising for >3.5-hours/week (equates to 30mins of moderate-vigorous activity a day)
  • An inverse relationship between increasing physical activity and the risk of cardiovascular events.
  • A 1hr brisk walk per week decreases the likelihood of developing a hip fracture by 6% with every additional hour on top of that reducing the likelihood by another 6%.
  • One session per week can decrease the chance of developing depression by 22%, with four exercise sessions giving you a 46% reduced chance.

Not only does exercise release endorphins that leave us feeling happy and energised, but it also provides the opportunity to focus on ourselves, catch-up with friends, and create new connections.

Women need to know that they are not alone, and that there is a solution to the challenges they’re facing.

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