I have been talking with numerous women about their bouts of struggle with perimenopause, menopause and post menopause. Most women when going through these stages are trying to get reacquainted with the body they have gotten so used to. Things women could easily do, now become more laborious and food they could easily eat before isn’t metabolized as easily. Everyone has different struggles, and the rare few that don’t, are just that, rare.
I want to help point out different things that could cut down on the symptoms of menopause. One of them being working out. In the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), menopausal symptoms were more frequent among less active women, with a trend of increasing symptoms with decreasing activity. There are many ways in which this can play out for women. Women’s bone mass peaks in their 30s, and then starts to decrease and accelerate a few years before menopause at approximately 2% a year. The suggestion is that weight training is one of the best options for women. However, if anyone cannot do this, another option is to do yoga or walk. There was a study done where women who walked and did yoga had a better quality of life (emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually).
Another aspect to look into is nutrition. The suggestion we have is that you eat like you are a diabetic. Low sugars throughout the day (~under 24g) and carbohydrates close to a workout or at night is going to be very important. Because as your hormones decrease then it stresses your adrenal glands and then as your adrenals get tired it stresses your thyroid more. So adding another stressor to the system, like sugar, is simply asking for trouble. So sticking to your high protein and high veggie intake is going to be key in order to lower the stress on your system.
This brings me to the last part of the harsh reality that less than half of the population regularly participates in physical activity at even the minimal level required for health benefits, and adherence to physical activity guidelines is even lower among women ages 40 to 60. The real struggle is the self-discipline of being active and wanting to take care of yourself. So whether you are a woman going through menopause or not, be intentional about taking care of yourself, because you cannot take care of others without first taking care of yourself.
1 Busman, B. A. (2013). Menopause and Exercise [Electronic version]. American College of Sports Medicine, 17(3), 1-7.
2 Elavsky, S. (2009). Physical Activity, Menopause, and Quality of Life: The Role of Affect and Self-Worth across Time. National Institute of Health.
3 Sternfeld, B., & Dugan, S. (2011). Physical Activity and Health During the Menopausal Transition. National Institute of Health.