It’s easy to lose motivation to move during menopause. Symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, and mood changes can leave you feeling drained and uncomfortable. Staying active during menopause can make this transition easier by relieving or lessening symptoms.
Whether you’ve always been active or want to embark on a new fitness journey during menopause, it’s best to approach it with a plan. A plan doesn’t mean you need to be rigid and structured. It’s better to invite fitness into your life in a fun and playful way. You’re more likely to stick with it when it doesn’t feel like a chore or stressful.
Putting together a fitness plan during menopause
Menopause may feel unpredictable at times. So when creating your plan, give yourself some leeway for days when you’re not feeling your best. We recommend incorporating different types of exercise into your week because they benefit your body and mind in various ways.
Remember that exercise doesn’t have to look a certain way, and it doesn’t have to leave you feeling drained to be effective. So as you create your plan, choose activities that you feel excited about.
Set aside time in your schedule and stick to it. Exercise is part of your self-care plan, and you need to prioritize it like you would a doctor’s appointment or dinner date. Whether you have ten minutes a day or one hour a few days a week — put it on your calendar and don’t skip it.
What types of exercise support menopause?
Different types of exercise benefit your body in unique ways. Trying new exercise methods is a great way to challenge your mind and body and prevent boredom. We recommend choosing one or two different types of exercise during your week to stimulate your body.
Muscle-building exercises don’t have to make you bulky. You don’t even need to lift weights (though it’s a great option). Strength training is any type of exercise that puts resistance on your muscles, forcing them to get stronger. Resistance exercise is critical for older women because it helps improve bone strength — which can decrease your risk of bone loss as you age.
Bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, planks, and incline pushes are great to build strength without gym equipment. You can also bring a pair of dumbbells on a walk and perform curls and overhead presses. If you’re new to strength training, it may benefit you to take classes at a local gym or hire a personal trainer.
Cardio or aerobic exercise
Walking, cycling, rowing, and swimming are suitable methods of cardio exercise. The important aspect of cardio is getting your heart rate up to a target rate, which differs depending on your age. Cardio is also great for burning calories, increasing blood circulation, and releasing hormones like endorphins and dopamine, which help you stay motivated, increase hopefulness, and improve your overall mood.
Yoga, deep breathing exercises, pilates, and tai chi are great ways to support your mind during menopause. Mindful exercise has been shown to support a positive mood, improve sleep quality, and even support sexual changes as you transition. Adding ten minutes a day of mindful practices can do wonders for your health during menopause.
Pelvic floor exercises
Loss of pelvic floor strength happens at various stages in life but can be especially prevalent during menopause. A weakened pelvic floor can lead to incontinence, prolapse, sexual issues, and more. Exercises that support pelvic floor strength can combat these issues while improving blood flow, lubrication, and overall pelvic health.
Kegels, core exercises, and posture training are great ways to support pelvic floor health and improve your overall strength. If you’re new to this type of exercise, it may help to consult with a pelvic floor specialist — especially if you are experiencing noticeable pelvic floor changes.
As we age, balance is crucial as it can reduce our risk of falling. Bone loss increases your risk of serious injury, so stability is a key factor in decreasing your chance of a bad fall. Simple exercises like standing on one leg, straight-line walking, and certain yoga poses can help.
Putting it all together
Movement every day is ideal for your overall health and wellness. Schedule breaks throughout your day to stretch, move and get fresh air. Plan 2-4 sessions a week of more vigorous exercise such as strength training, cardio, or yoga.
Plan activities like weekend hikes, bike rides, or pilates classes with friends. Socializing during exercises is the perfect way to stay motivated, have accountability, and boost your mood.