Every single woman on the planet will experience it during their 45 – 55’s. If you asked two different women, they’d tell you two different versions of what menopause was like. That’s because although the symptoms are common, not everyone experiences menopause in the same way….
Not to worry though, there is something you can do to help manage your symptoms and help you through this change in your life.
The 7 Benefits of Exercise for Menopause!
Exercise has been shown to provide several health benefits whilst you are going through menopause. Exercise can…
1. Help Manage Symptoms! (Woohoo!)
Exercise can actually help to manage and reduce some of the symptoms of menopause such as; aches and pains, loss of libido, and fatigue. Increasing physical activity will result in a positive cycle of feeling better, which will increase motivation to exercise, making you feel better, and so on. You’ll end up feeling better on the inside and out!
2. Boost your Mood!
Women going through menopause commonly struggle with mood changes, anxiety, depression, and stress due to the hormonal changes within their bodies. However, exercise can increase positive mood and also protect against anxiety and depression.
3. Prevent Weight Gain!
Due to changes in hormone levels during menopause women may find they gain weight more easily than before (especially around the belly). Exercise and healthy eating is a great way to reduce weight and prevent any extra kilo’s creeping on.
4. Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease!
Oestrogen plays a protective mechanism against cardiovascular disease. During menopause, oestrogen is reduced which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can strengthen your heart and reduce risk of heart disease
5. Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis!
Oestrogen also plays an important role in maintaining bone density. The reduced oestrogen production during menopause can lead to decreased bone density, and thus increase the risk of osteoporosis. Exercise can strengthen bones and muscles, and improve balance reducing the risk of fractures due to falls.
6. Reduce Risk of Diabetes!
Changes in hormone levels during menopause can also affect the way your body reacts to insulin, potentially leading to diabetes. Exercise helps the body respond to insulin and remove excess blood sugars reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
7. Help Maintain Physical Function!
As our bodies age they start to decline in physical function (loss of muscle, loss of bone, decrease in balance, etc). Exercise is the perfect way to keep up your function and ability to continue to live the life you love. (And run around after your energetic little grandchildren!)
Awesome right?! You don’t have to just deal with this change you’re going through… There is something YOU can do to help yourself through it!
General Exercise Guidelines
150 mins of moderate exercise a week (or 30 mins a day over 5 days)
75 mins of vigorous activity a week
2-3x strength training days a week (non-consecutive days)
About the Author
If you watch almost any form of professional sport you may have heard the term ‘Load Management’ in recent years. Often the conversations on this topic are led by cranky former athletes tut-tutting that ‘back in my day we didn’t have load management, we just played!’
Yes, the term Load Management has been popularised in recent years. This is not because the athletes of today are soft compared with their predecessors. This is because those charged with preparing athletes to be at their best when they need to perform are now armed with a vast and growing body of evidence that supports Load Management.
And the evidence supporting Load Management is not confined to team sport athletes, or elites in individual sports. Published research shows that recreational, even novice runners should be considering how they are managing their training loads.
Show me the evidence!!
- A Systematic Review by Drew and Finch (2016) that included 35 studies found that across many sports, training loads were predictive of both injury and illness.
- A Systematic Review by Damsted er al (2018) found that runners were more likely to develop an injury if they; suddenly altered the velocity, distance and/or frequency of their running; increased their average weekly running by >30% versus <10%; and/or they had a sudden spike in their training volume the week before the injury occurred.
- In a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis by Videbaek et al (2015) (13 articles included) that looked at injury incidence per 1000hrs of running, novice runners were likely to experience more-than-double the amount of injuries per 1000hrs as recreational runners.
- A Systematic review by van Gent et al (2007) found that the most common site of injury in the runners in the included studies was the knee, but that training plans that gradually increased loads were protective against knee injuries.
I have provided the complete citations for each of these Review Articles for those that want to dig deeper into the evidence. I warn you though that this search is an absolute rabbit warren- like I said earlier, there is a vast and growing body of evidence on this topic!
Evidence is important in health. In this particular area though, the evidence is just reinforcing what common sense should already be telling us.
Stress > Recover > Adapt > Repeat
Running is a form of physical stress. When we allow adequate recovery our body gradually adapts to deal with this stress.
A well-structured training plan is really a balancing act between imparting a ‘dose’ of physical stress, then encouraging recovery strategies to enhance the adaptation process. Stress > Recover > Adapt. We repeat this cycle over a given period of time so that you can be as well prepared as possible for the event you are training for.
The evidence tells us that if we try to rush this process, if we build load too quickly and impart too much stress at any time point we can tip this balance and create injury. And if not injury, we can end up just becoming run-down and sick which can be terribly frustrating if you have an event looming on the calendar.
Load Management and Goal Setting
If you are training for a specific event do you have enough time between now and then to build load gradually?
Actually, I’ll be more precise than that. From your current training load, can you build upon that total load by no more than 10% per week up to when (if) you plan to taper?
Does your time-frame include some rest weeks and additional weeks for unforeseen circumstances?
If you can confidently answer YES! to those questions I don’t need to wish you good luck, as you are probably managing yourself impeccably.
If you cannot answer yes, then I recommend you seek something more reliable than luck. I suggest finding a good coach, experienced in Load Management for runners.
About The Author
Damsted, C., Glad, S., Nielsen, R. O., Sørensen, H., & Malisoux, L. (2018). Is there evidence for an association between changes in training load and running-related injuries? A systematic review. International journal of sports physical therapy, 13(6), 931.
Drew, M. K., & Finch, C. F. (2016). The relationship between training load and injury, illness and soreness: a systematic and literature review. Sports medicine, 46(6), 861-883.
Van Gent, R. N., Siem, D., van Middelkoop, M., Van Os, A. G., Bierma-Zeinstra, S. M. A., & Koes, B. W. (2007). Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. British journal of sports medicine, 41(8), 469-480.
Videbæk, S., Bueno, A. M., Nielsen, R. O., & Rasmussen, S. (2015). Incidence of running-related injuries per 1000 h of running in different types of runners: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports medicine, 45(7), 1017-1026.
At iNform we take the word ‘goal’ seriously. A ‘goal’ is different from an aspiration, desire or intention. For us, a goal is a specific outcome that you have a strategy for, and determination to achieve.
The well-known Goal Framework acronym SMARTER is a framework that we as Exercise Physiologists use to help keep us accountable to creating a great strategy to help you succeed. You can read endlessly on this topic from authors more qualified than me, but if you are unsure of what SMARTER stands for it is as follows:
I won’t delve deeper into the specifics of each of these domains in this article. Rather I want to talk to you about an aspect of living within a goal framework that I enjoy the most. I am talking about the concept of Daily Wins.
If I am training for an event in 6 months time I should have a rough idea of what the next 6 months will look like. The next month should be quite clear, but the following week is spelled out in BOLD UNDERLINED font. This means I know exactly what I need to do each day this week to help take me closer to my goal.
Every day that I complete my task for that day, I win. If that task is my long run and I get it done, I give myself a pat on the back for the win I earned. If the next day my aim is to recover and that includes a leisurely walk with the dog, a warm bath and a gentle stretching session, guess what? I win again. It is incredibly satisfying to pat oneself on the back for taking a bubble bath I can tell you!
It is not essential for a runner to have a goal at all times. In fact I encourage all of my runners to spend at least some of the year deliberately goal-less (I will tease this topic out in a future article).
A SMARTER Goal is a serious commitment. And truly committing yourself to a Goal can become burdensome. If you have an intelligent daily plan you can eliminate the sense of burden by celebrating your Daily Wins.
About The Author
So you’ve been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
You might be sitting there wondering where to go from here? You FINALLY have an explanation for why you’ve been experiencing all those symptoms; hooray! This is good news (even if it doesn’t feel like it) because NOW you can do something about it.
Root cause of PCOS
Managing PCOS enables you to take back control of your life and it starts by finding the root cause driving your symptoms.
PCOS occurs when there is an imbalance of hormones in the body (this is what causes all those annoying symptoms you’ve been experiencing). So it makes sense the aim of managing your PCOS should be to determine what’s causing this imbalance and work towards re-balancing your hormones.
Insulin Resistance & PCOS
This is the most common type of PCOS. Insulin resistance occurs when the body stops responding to insulin, and both sugar and insulin levels in the blood start to rise. High levels of insulin can stimulate androgen production, thus disturbing the normal balance of hormones.
A blood sugar test from your GP can determine whether you have insulin resistance. If insulin resistance is driving your PCOS it’s particularly important to adopt a healthy and nourishing diet, and exercise regularly to manage and improve your blood sugar levels.
Inflammation & PCOS
Inflammation can be present in all types of PCOS. Things such as; stress, food sensitivities, poor gut health can lead to long term inflammation in the body. Long term inflammation can disrupt the body’s normal hormone levels and wreak havoc on both your physical and mental health.
Symptoms of inflammation are things like; fatigue, anxiety, IBS like symptoms, or joint pain (to name a few). If inflammation is the driver of your PCOS: determine your underlying source and start including positive lifestyle behaviours to support your body and manage your symptoms.
Adrenal & PCOS
If you don’t fit the insulin resistant or inflammatory type PCOS you may be one of the few women who have an adrenal form of PCOS. This occurs when the ovaries function as normal but the adrenal glands produce androgens in response to “stress” which can then result in an imbalance of hormone.
A blood hormone test (testing for DHEA/DHEA-S) from your GP would help determine whether adrenal glands are functioning as normal. If your stress response system is driving your PCOS, learning to manage your stress and support your nervous system is vital!
Knowing your root cause can be a game changer when it comes to better managing your PCOS. Now you can work towards re-balancing your hormones, improving your symptoms, and get back to feeling better day to day!
About the Author
So, I’ve finally accepted what psychological researchers are calling the current state of affairs as grief. My routine is methodical. Dealing with change and uncertainty like many is difficult. My life is based on alarms, timers and proclivities. For the last week or so my circadian rhythm has been awry. The gym that I go to has temporarily closed. My time-restricted fasting has been more of a challenge, and I’ve had to meditate and journal my way out of regular unease. As you can see my routine has been disrupted by this change. This is not great for a creature of habit, introvert and perfectionist! However, finding routine can manage change.
So now that I’ve accepted the grief. I need to be proactive moving ahead. I require a new routine. Now that I am sitting more, and self-isolating at home I need to move regularly. As I write this blog, my one-hour timer on my iPhone goes-off to remind me to get up and do fifteen pushups with a resisted powerband. This neat little ‘timely’ reminder is what I’ll discuss with you’ll now.
Tuesday’s for me used to be a little like the following. High intensity intervals on the bike for twenty minutes before work in the morning followed by upper body resistance training and high intensity intervals on the rowing machine in the afternoon following work.
To do my best to mimic the aforementioned, this is what i do now. I know that I have a very large hill to climb on my road bike this afternoon. I’ll use this opportunity to ride hard up this hill, to get-in my high intensity interval! Secondly, as previously mentioned I have a hourly timer set. This is reminding me to get up and perform fifteen pushups with a resistance band. The resistance band (as the name suggests) is trying to replicate a pushing exercise I’d typically do on Tuesday’s (Bench press). So far I’ve already done sixty pushups. With the goal to hit one hundred by the days end.
By still having a routine, and changing what I can control. Instantly I feel more at ease and grounded.
If the above resonates with you and you’re self isolating at home, there’s a plethora of objects to safely use around the home to still accumulate load as one would at their gym.
More so, being guided through this process via Telehealth, and a home based program may bring more ease, a sense of control and routine back in one’s life.
We can help you with this!
About The Author
The following draws upon personal experience that I hope can resonate with one during uncertainty and adversity. You’ll know the premise behind good hygiene and social distancing. Paradoxically, the premise behind your physical and mental health during uncertainty and adversity mustn’t be disinfected. As isolation looms, structuring plans to maintain physical and mental health need to also take precedence. I wish to share with you’ll how I managed my physical and mental health through my fathers ALS (Motor Neuron Disease) which I feel, may add context to what we’re currently facing without trying to overemphasise COVID-19.
Here we go!
June 2016 my father was diagnosed with ALS. My father statistically had three-years to live. I knew, to be able to work full-time, continue studying, exercise regularly, keep my mind somewhat at peace as well as keep my social connections and family obligations, I would need to be at my absolute best. I needed to implement plans (FAST). One could could call this a physical and mental first aid kit.
So what did I do?
Exercise! Especially incorporating aerobic, anaerobic and strength training was my solace to make an abundance of excellent molecules to improve my mood, resilience to stresses and a neat distraction.
Psychotherapy: Organising a mental health care plan. Check-in’s with my psychologist was super helpful to ‘talk it all out’. I had pre-booked appointments. Which made sure that I had helpful resources to utilise. Without allowing chaos and disorder to disrupt my routine which was crucial to maintain.
Meditation (ambiguity): Meditation really grounded me. I could label my emotions. Allow my emotions to be there non-judgmentally. I could control my sympathetic nervous system. This improved my ability to be more present. Lastly, my sleep improved greatly.
Journal writing/Poetry: Just as I was talking it all out, I was also scribbling and dabbling it all out. Writing in my own journal and creating poetry enabled me to release and let go constructively. I could draw onto my creative side. And the process was incredibly therapeutic.
Friends: Being vulnerable with my closest friends enabled me to feel safe and loved. This increases all the feel-good hormones involved with bonding and feeling connected.
My father passed-away August 2019. Drawing on my physical and mental first aid kit enabled me to ride the waves, navigate the give way signs and most importantly, accept what is. This is the main message of my meditation. Accept what’s coming. However, I strongly recommend that you invest in your own physical and mental first aid kit. Myself, and the team here at iNform can still greatly assist you with your physical and mental health. We’re still operating! And also have an online platform to assist you with home-based exercises!
I hope my experience. And how I made plans before things went awry motivate you to do the same.
About the Author