In this blog, we look at how exercise can help with symptoms and health conditions associated with the menopause.

Menopause is the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility, when the ovaries no longer make oestrogen and progesterone.

Perimenopause is when the menstrual cycles become irregular, this is usually around age 47. Women may start to notice symptoms like hot flushes in this time.

Menopause is when a woman has gone a year without a period and hot flushes, sleep problems and other symptoms are common in this stage. Post-menopausal is the time after this point.

Most women will experience some symptoms around the menopause. The duration and severity of these symptoms varies from woman to woman. On average, most symptoms last around 4 years from the last period; however, around 1 in every 10 women experience them for up to 12 years.

How can exercise support women going through this stage of their life? 

The significant number of hormonal changes in the body during menopause impacts a woman’s health, increasing the likelihood of various medical conditions. These include:

  • heart disease
  • osteoporosis
  • type 2 diabetes
  • obesity
  • muscular weakness

All of these conditions have been scientifically reported to be prevented, delayed or managed by regular exercise and physical activity. Therefore, it is important as a fitness professional to understand both the physiological changes that occur during this stage of a women’s life and the impact it can have on overall health. This will ensure the exercise programme focuses on the maintenance of health and prevention of co-morbidities.

There are no specific exercise guidelines for menopause. Therefore, it is recommended that women aim to achieve the exercise guidelines for healthy adults. These new 2019 guidelines can be found here. The guidelines can also be tailored to ensure:

  • A suitable amount of resistance training is being performed to prevent osteoporosis
  • Pelvic floor exercises are included
  • Cardiovascular exercise is performed at a moderate level of intensity to maintain heart health and also manage the shifts in adipose fat storage
  • It is a fun and engaging programme that can enhance mental wellbeing which can become negatively influenced during this time in a women’s life due to all the changes that occur.

Consider the whole picture when training women in their 40-60’s to ensure you are providing a complete holistic approach to supporting their lifestyle behaviours.