Your questions about exercise before, during, and after menopause are my post topic today. They are the topic of Hot, Not Bothered, and you may have gathered if you’re following, that I’m deep into research daily for that. The book is set up to be easy to pick up, put down, read a flip a day or read the whole thing depending on your time. You can read all the exercise flips, focus on exercise nutrition, or read all the daily habits so you can optimize exercise results or busy days when you can’t exercise.
The exercise and menopause tips can apply at other times of life too. You may find them less exclusive to midlife and more inclusive for women of all ages. I’ve begun to realize that questions about exercise and menopause are your question not just because of menopause, but because you’re getting back to exercise or starting due to changes you’re experiencing right now as you’re in it. The questions really are about what you used to think and how you used to exercise and whether those things are the right thing now. Those, in fact, are the real questions.
How does menopause really impact metabolism?
The more estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are out of balance the more confused your body is and a confused body slows down to protect you. Reproductive hormones are intertwined with metabolism. What’s more, stress effects you during menopause with greater negative impact than it has. Exercise and menopause should be best friends but they have to change the way they co-exist. What you did in your 20s and 30s may increase your cortisol. If you’re amplifying your stress with too little or too much exercise, either one, you will slow your metabolism.
It’s important to know two things. First, it’s not your fault. The messages about exercise and what you should be doing are confusing. They swing from high intensity exercise and bootcamps frequently to light exercise void of any intensity and no resistance training. If you’re dragging yourself to a bootcamp multiple days in a row, with chronic injuries and feeling exhausted much of the time, it’s too much of a good thing. If you’ve been told, just walk, and you want to live well for several more decades, this advice is not enough.
Second, no where else in the world is menopause associated with weight gain. Though you might say, no, not me, we collectively slow down as we age. We have been sitting more, working more, commuting more, and moving less. From 40 to 50 most women have decreased, not increased exercise time, yet increased intake of calories.
The best news is that weight loss not only changes appearance but it can change glucose metabolism further improving health and decreasing risk of disease. A very recent study showed weight loss can occur with or without exercise, but as you’re going to guess, best results occur with exercise. Decreased abdominal fat and increased abdominal muscles occur with exercise in another study in Obesity. Guess what? Finally, it’s becoming easier to find studies done with menopausal women. So these both apply to you.
Can I do HIIT and Weight Training if I have Osteoporosis?
The following list is for those diagnosed with osteoporosis.
- Abrupt movements requiring agility, and reaction that could increase risk of falls should be avoided
- Twisting, forward flexing, and torque increases risk
- Low impact low moves are safe for advanced osteoporosis
- Weight training should be a must (and it must progress to be intense enough)
- Balance exercises should be a must
- Safe addition of reaction skills should be included
This month (September 2017) I’ll have a mini course for osteoporosis available (and included in The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women online course).
Based on those tips, the answer to “can I do HIIT” is tricky. It depends. You can do HIIT anywhere. Should you be doing rapid work that involves bending, lifting, and twisting? No. Is it safe to be doing kettle bell swings that add shear forces? No. Should you be doing high impact box jumps or even jump rope? When you’ve been diagnosed, no. You can do intervals in a pool, you can do intervals of hill walking, you can apply intervals on the elliptical or a bike. So yes, you can safely do intervals if you’ve reduced your risk.
Exercise and Menopause Recommendations
Choose what you love, or ways to make it something you can at least enjoy. That said you need a form of weight bearing exercise if possible. That is, walking, jogging, dancing, and if another condition makes these inappropriate for you, weight training is even more important. If for instance you’re in a pool or on a bike, you’ve unloaded your skeletal system from the effects of gravity, so you’ve reduced the bone density benefits, though they are good overall fitness activities. You have increased your need for weight training.
Weight training should be a part of every woman’s routine at every age. Prevention of osteoporosis starts before puberty ideally, but the next best time is today. Starting slowly, and progressing to overload bones and muscles is the goal. Machine weights are often smart for osteoporosis because they allow safe lifting of heavier loads than are possible with free weights.
Balance exercises don’t need to take tons of time. Stand on one leg in the kitchen while you’re making coffee or brushing your teeth. Just 2-3 minutes a day of balance exercises can improve your balance and prevent a fall.
What’s different about exercise and menopause?
The stress. You’ve got to monitor the effects of stress on your body and on your mind. Overwhelm from potentially legit brain fog keeps you spinning without a direction. Exercise is often not the obstacle. It’s spending more time thinking about it than doing it. It’s potentially not asking the questions you need to ask about how to get started and what to do at each session.
Beyond the not knowing what to do, and not starting because of that confusion, it’s a struggle with who you are now and who you used to be. You’re not going to get her back.
You can get better from here. You can be the best now. But the body has changed, the hormones have changed. Wanting the same feeling from the same exercise you used to do is simply not going to happen. But, if you remove the limits in your mind, there aren’t limits. Not being able to get back there, is not a limiter. You can be in the best shape of your life now if you start focusing on what your body needs now.