With the onset of menopause there are a number of symptoms women may face: hot flashes, fatigue, vaginal dryness, and mood swings, to name a few. As women go through the transition from menopause to postmenopause, exercise remains very important for overall health and symptom management. Read on to learn about effective exercises to include in your weekly schedule during postmenopause.
Exercise and Hormones
A study published in the Journal of Women and Aging shows that women who exercise regularly during postmenopause can achieve the protective benefits of estrogen without the risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Following 48 sedentary postmenopausal women over a 24 week exercise program, research found that 18% of participants recorded lowered amounts of the chemical that produced oxidative stress. Oxidative stress rises after menopause and occurs when harmful chemicals that damage cells and tissues take over antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants help to protect tissues from damage and decreased amounts can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Previously women used HRT to help alleviate menopause symptoms, but research shows it can increase risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots.
Benefits of Exercise
Women should aim for a combination of weight bearing and aerobic exercise, four times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. Low impact aerobics are ideal for increasing respiratory rates to keep organs healthy and strong. Weight training helps to build muscle mass and maintain muscle tone. Exercise combined with a healthy diet is important for postmenopausal women and is a key part of reducing the risk of health issues. Here are some of the benefits of regular exercise:
Helps prevent osteoporosis keeping bone and cartilage strong.
Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing heart and respiratory rates.
Keeps your joints moving and maintains their strength by encouraging constant movement of muscles, which also helps to prevent arthritis.
Helps maintain regular bowel function, a common disorder in the elderly.
Helps to improve overall health and fitness by controlling weight and keeping the heart stronger, helping to create a sense of well being and alertness.
Has been shown to reduce the frequency of hot flashes.
Helps to lower stress levels, which in turn improves symptoms.
Women who exercise on a frequent basis also report more relief from symptoms during postmenopause, which can include decreased pain from osteoporosis and less weight gain.
Try setting an exercise routine that is enjoyable and realistic for you, and as your fitness improves, you may consider signing up for a gym class and going with friends to aerobics or Zumba sessions. These can also have the added bonus of widening your social circle. Yoga, swimming, and walking are excellent low-impace options. Most importantly, try to include exercise in your daily life. It will improve your overall health, longevity, and fight lingering symptoms during postmenopause.
For more information on postmenopause and treatments, follow the links below.