Here is a cheat sheet on specific age-related exercise recommendations for perimenopause and menopause.
Are you an avid gym goer, prefer to work out at home, or honestly haven’t had a sweat in a while?
Regardless of your fitness level, exercising for women in their 40s and beyond is somewhat different than for women in their 20s and 30s. Physical changes, such as the slowing of metabolism, hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause, and the higher risk of developing heart and bone problems at this time of life, make it important to examine closer to the best fitness practices in the 40s and 50s.
40s is a time to move, strengthen muscles and stretch more
The World Health Organization recommends adults up to age 64 get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. That equates to about 30 minutes a day, five to seven days a week. Adults are also recommended to do muscle-strengthening exercises, focusing on all parts of the body, at least two days a week. In midlife, it is important to plan stretching before and after physical activity, to better prepare the body for an intense training session.
Here are four tips for exercising smarter in your midlife:
1. Increase aerobic exercise to help reverse increased risk of heart disease.
The risk of heart disease increases with age. Although men are more likely to have a heart attack than women, it is important to stay as heart healthy as possible. One way to do this is to continue doing or get used to doing the recommended amounts of aerobic exercise each week. This activity helps strengthen the heart muscle by causing it to pump faster. In a study published in January 2018 in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that a group of adults in their 50s who exercised for about 30 minutes most days for two years improved their physical condition (they were previously sedentary or did little exercise) and helped reduce heart stiffness, which improved heart health.
Bottom Line: Start or continue doing 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, running, biking, or dancing. Then, increase your weekly workouts based on the level of the study participants. Their program included:
A high intensity aerobics session.
two or three days a week of moderate-intensity exercise
At least one strength training session per week
At least one long aerobic session per week.
Participants achieved these activity levels by starting with three 30-minute bouts of moderate exercise for the first three months, after which high-intensity exercise was included.
2. Strengthen your bones with strength training
Especially after 40 to 50 years, the risk of breaking a bone increases, because the bones are as strong as they will ever be. Women, whose bones are generally thinner than those of men, are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, ie weakening or loss of bone. Certain exercises go a long way to strengthening muscles, which can help prevent falls and, as a result, fractures. They also help improve posture, strength, flexibility and movement. These moves should be done alongside strength training, which uses weights to help build muscle, and aerobic exercise.
Example to remember
One such move is the toe and heel lift, which strengthens the lower legs and improves balance:
Lift your toes and lift your heels
Stand straight ; hold onto the back of a chair. Do not bend at the waist or at the knees.
Stand up on your tiptoes and come back down on your heels. As you stand on your tiptoes, imagine moving your head toward the ceiling.
Repeat the exercise 10 times.
Hold on to the chair as little as possible, in order to test your balance skills.
Repeat the exercises on the toes and on the heels once a day.
3. Move more for mental health and mood benefits
A December 2018 study published in the journal International Psychogeriatrician found that many adults report feeling lonely, with loneliness peaking in adults in their late 50s. This loneliness is linked to poorer mental health, such as feeling depressed or anxious. However, previous research published in Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry has shown that aerobic exercise can improve anxiety and depression through increased blood flow and the creation of endorphins, chemicals of the brain related to happiness.
What you must remember
First, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you think you’re experiencing symptoms of depression. If you don’t regularly get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days, try moving more. Try jogging, swimming, biking, walking, gardening, or dancing for at least 10 minutes and see if your mood improves. Try to increase to 30 minutes or more a day if you can.
4. Incorporate interval training into your workouts to ease menopausal symptoms.
The years leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, are characterized by hormonal changes that can cause hot flashes, insomnia, and irregular periods. Although exercise does not prevent these unpleasant symptoms, cardio exercise can help reduce weight or maintain a healthy weight (which leads to a lower risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes ) as well as reducing stress levels. Menopause is also a time when the body retains more fat in the abdominal area, resulting in what some call pot belly. Regular strenuous exercise can help keep belly fat at bay.
Try interval training, which involves exercising at a healthy pace, then increasing the intensity for a short sprint, then repeating. An example is walking for five minutes, then jogging for one minute, then walking again, repeating the one minute jog for several intervals.