There is no health or dietary regime that doesn’t encourage us to exercise but just how you do it can be confusing. There are so many ways to increase your heart rate and strengthen your immune system but at menopause not many of us think about taking up running.
Not entirely encouraged by the title, I came across Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, which launched last week and is a worthy attempt to encourage more women into sport. It is born out of research revealing that, in the 14-40 age group, two million fewer women than men play sport regularly. Running has many benefits, not just the exercise, but it is weight bearing and so strengthens bone and can help prevent osteoporosis.
Why we need to exercise
For many of us the sight of our less than toned bodies in leotards or joggers is sufficient to put us off before we start and although it is important for younger women it is even more so as we enter menopause to get more active.
Hot flushes are the main symptom that plague women at this time and many studies have reported that exercise can help, whether it is a yoga class or a brisk walk. If you have always been active then there is no need to stop because your body has not suddenly become less able, but it will do so if not regularly put through its paces.
Again a number of studies, including one by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, have found that regular, sustained aerobic exercise can help to relieve menopausal symptoms. A specific exercise programme for menopause should include both cardiovascular and flexibility sessions to stay well and remain vigorous.
Regular exercise is also an excellent way to stave off weight gain and loss of muscle mass, two frequent side effects of menopause. Most healthy women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week but please start gently and build up. You are not in a competition, but aiming for a sustained improvement in your fitness and hormone health.
If you join a local running club, they often have sessions for beginners or women only, and they will help you build up your stamina at a safe pace and it is very supportive and good way to meet new friends.
So what are you waiting for? We have nothing to lose but our flab!