Up to 85% of women will experience some or all symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, low mood, joint or muscle aches, headaches, tiredness, sleep disturbances and weight gain.
Exercise can and should be an important part of the strategy for managing the symptoms of menopause and post-menopause.
Menopause refers to the end of menstruation and is defined when a woman has not had a period for over 12 months. ‘Peri-menopause’ is the time when the symptoms associated with menopause begins, and ‘post-menopause’ refers to when symptoms persist for months or years after menopause.
Most women reach menopause between 45 – 55 years of age, but it can occur earlier as a result of cancer treatment, surgery or unknown causes.
Regular exercise has many benefits for the body and mind. While research on the effect of exercise on reducing hot flushes and night sweats remains inconclusive, exercise does play a key role in enhancing overall wellbeing to reduce the impact of menopausal symptoms in daily life.
Stress can contribute to and exacerbate menopausal symptoms. Recent research has found some forms of “mind-body” exercise (think: yoga, tai chi) to be promising for improving mood, anxiety, and sleep during menopause. Deep breathing and meditative exercise can also help manage stress levels. Try adding a mind-body exercise class to your weekly routine, such as our virtual Tai Chi programs.
Muscle tenderness and soreness is triggered by hormonal imbalances when your body is going through menopause. Studies have found that those who are regularly active report fewer somatic symptoms and less pain. Pain can also be caused by arthritis, so if you are experiencing pain it is best to check with your GP before undertaking exercise.
Following menopause, the risk of low bone density and osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes increases. Weight-bearing, low impact exercises (think: walking, or low impact aerobics) are gentle while helping to build bone strength. Strength exercises (e.g. weights or resistance bands) can help keep muscles strong, maintain weight, and support overall fitness levels.
In line with the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines, SHARE recommends each week:
- 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate activity
- 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity
- Or a combination of both moderate and vigorous
SHARE staff can help you build up an exercise routine which has a good combination of aerobic, strength, balance and mind-body exercises. Check out our live virtual online class schedule for a range of programs to support better body and mind throughout menopause.
This article is for informational purposes only. Consult your local medical authority for advice.