For many women, regular exercise seems to get harder when you’re middle-aged. Balancing work responsibilities, caring for your family and helping your aging parents make it a challenge to find the time. However, in the years leading up to and after menopause, exercise is especially key. Regular physical activity can help ease some of menopause’s most vexing symptoms while also helping to protect you against health risks that increase after menopause.
How Much Exercise Do You Need Around Menopause?
No matter how active you’ve been in the past, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise —swimming, hiking or brisk walking — most days of the week. That equates to 30 minutes, five days per week. In addition, include strength training at least two days per week.
What Kind of Exercise Is Best for Menopausal Symptoms?
There isn’t one best form of exercise to focus on during perimenopause and after menopause. All kinds of exercise are beneficial. One of the most important fitness tips for menopause is to follow a balanced exercise routine that features aerobic activity, strength training, stretching and balance exercises. Before you start, ask your primary care provider what activities would be safe and appropriate for you.
Strength training takes on extra importance during and after the menopausal transition, for a couple of reasons. As you age, you lose bone and muscle mass. Strength training can help slow and reverse that process. In addition, resistance training — a type of strength training — may help reduce hot flashes, one of the most common menopause symptoms. In a 2019 study, Swedish researchers found that a 15-week program of resistance training reduced hot flashes in postmenopausal women by nearly 50%.
Not excited by the thought of lifting weights? Don’t worry — it’s not the only way to strengthen your muscles and bones. Try using resistance bands, medicine balls or the weight of your own body in exercises such as wall squats.
A Bevy of Health Benefits
You can reap a variety of menopause-related benefits from exercise, including:
- Better mood and mental health. Physical activity can reduce your risk for depression and anxiety. Exercise also promotes endorphins, the feel-good hormones, mitigating mood changes.
- Help with hot flashes. Stretching and strength training may lead to fewer hot flashes.
- Improved sleep. Sleep disruptions are common around menopause, but exercise can help you avoid them. Just be sure your workout isn’t too close to bedtime.
- Reduced risk for serious diseases. Lower estrogen levels after menopause increase your risk for some diseases, including heart disease, osteoporosis and stroke. Exercise can lower your risk.
- Weight control. Regular exercise can help you get to and maintain a healthy weight — another factor that can reduce hot flashes.
Whether you need a bone density scan, screening mammogram, pelvic floor care or a routine well-woman visit, turn to St. Elizabeth for comprehensive women’s health services. Find a women’s health services provider at St. Elizabeth Physicians in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.