Menopause can be a challenge when it comes to exercise, with energy levels dipping and joints becoming unexpectedly achy. But it doesn't have to be that way, with many people coming into their own when it comes to exercise in midlife.
In today's Menopause Memo we speak to personal trainer Katie Walton, who specialises in fitness for over 40s, and offers her advice on smashing your workouts during perimenopause and beyond.
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I'm SO tired. Do I have to exercise?
"During perimenopause, we need to press the reset button when it comes to the type of exercise we're doing," says Katie. "The age-old trick of eating healthily and exercising more no longer works; it's time to embrace a different approach."
Some days you'll feel too tired to even consider looking at a dumbbell or resistance band, but keeping up your exercise routine as you enter perimenopause is key – and not just for a toned physique. "Exercise supports blood flow to the brain, boosting your energy and mood and fighting the dreaded brain fog," says Katie. Exercising will also regulate blood sugar levels and ultimately reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, she adds.
"During perimenopause, we really need to work on our strength, stamina, posture and coordination so exercise is key," Katie continues.
Working out should boost your self-esteem and confidence and will help to get your mojo back. During a time when you don't feel like yourself, carving out a space in your diary for exercise will feel like me-time. Think of working out as self-care, to rid your mind of worries and help you refocus.
"Exercising will reduce anxiety, boost your mood and improve the quality of Your sleep – three things often seriously impacted during perimenopause," Katie says.
Exercising during perimenopause will also regulate your blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity, which lowers your risk of depression, improves your bone health and cardiovascular health and ultimately reduces the risk of excess weight gain, she adds.
How to work out during menopause
"As well as aiming for a daily walk (preferably outside in the fresh air), we need to add in strength training to maintain our muscle mass and to keep our bones strong," says Katie. "To feel healthier, we need to combine exercises using weights with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) plus a slower, longer walk.
However, you must listen to your body - some days you want to do HIIT, some days you want to do yoga. And that's fine!
Which exercise is best in perimenopause?
The best exercise is the one you actually want to do.
That said, HIIT (short sharp bursts of activity followed by longer slower activity) and strength training are key, according to Katie. Yoga and Pilates are also great forms of exercise as they are energising, strengthening, low impact and therefore easy on our joints, as well as helpful for reducing stress.
Walking, swimming and dancing are all good too and help to keep our joints healthy. "The types of exercise that work best for me as a 50-year-old menopausal woman are Barre and Reformer Pilates, HIIT, strength training and walking every day – consistency is key!" Katie says.
Which exercise should I avoid in midlife?
"Running long distances should be avoided in perimenopause, unless you're already a seasoned runner and love it," Katie cautions. "Although cardio training is important, it's lifting weights that will keep your body stronger and more functional."
"Running for miles and miles every day will stress the body more and, quite frankly, who has the time? Exercising little and often is the best way to exercise," Katie says.
Katie is a Personal Trainer & Lifestyle Consultant, specialising in women over 40. Her company Embrace offers an initial FREE consultation as well as private fitness coaching.
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