Menopause and Exercise

There has been much talk this week in the BBC news about women going through menopause; “what we wished we’d known about the menopause”. This topic I feel is still a taboo, so I am pleased that the BBC has given this a platform, as the menopause can affect women of all ages. I can recall reading in horror the story published by the Mirror online, some years ago, about a 13 year old girl that went through menopause because she fell into that 1% of women who experience unexplained premature ovarian failure (POF), where the menopause starts before the age of 40. A recent study suggests that 6% of women experience premature menopause. However, the average age that women commonly experience this is 51.

Having gone through menopause myself at the age of 40, after a planned hysterectomy, I can certainly say that nothing can prepare you for the impact it has on your life, even if you were expecting it. For every woman’s experience is different. Yes, there are the common hot flushes, nightly sweats, insomnia, mood swings and the list goes on, but I found it distracted me from my day to day activities and the smallest of tasks seemed an uphill battle.

I can still remember the day it happened 4 years, 4 months and 7 days ago. I was out shopping on a cold winters day, so cold in fact that everyone around me looked like they were dressed for a blizzard. I however, was sweating profusely wearing a short sleeved shirt. Nevertheless, I did get a few confusing stares. I knew immediately that it was that time. My mind was racing, what now? what other changes can I expect? Of course I read all about menopause. In fact, I was given a pile of leaflets from the doctors and nurses after my surgery, as they reassuredly set me on my way. My mother had an hour long chat with me about her experience and a very sympathetic ear. However, when that moment arrives, it signifies an end to a huge part of your life. The reality sets in that you can no longer give birth to a child. Well, I am happy to say we had completed our family after the birth of our second child, our beautiful daughter, 8 months earlier. So the decision to proceed with the hysterectomy after a 16cm fibroid almost threatened my pregnancy and made my monthly menstruation unbearable, was one I had thought long and hard about.

Then, there is what to do next. Should I take HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) as it can help relieve most of the menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive. Other reported side effects of taking HRT, were nausea and irritation of the skin. However, I opted to use a more herbal remedy – Menopace, which is an effective formulation of 22 nutrients including moderate dietary levels of Soya Isoflavones, plus vitamin B6, which contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity and iodine, which contributes to normal production of thyroid hormones and thyroid function. However, the most effective remedy for me was regular exercise.

At the time I had started the menopause, I had begun my athletics training, which mean’t my exercise programme was quite intense. This helped me tremendously in combating some of the side effects like, maintaining a healthy weight, relieving stress and improving my quality of life.

Menopause is an important transition in a woman’s life. Use it as a reminder to take good care of yourself. Start by considering these fitness tips.

⁃ regular physical activity can help prevent weight gain.

⁃ exercise during and after menopause can help you lose excess weight or maintain a healthy weight, which might offer protection from various types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancer.

⁃ exercise can slow bone loss after menopause, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

⁃ menopause weight gain can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise can counter these risks.

⁃ physically active adults have a lower risk of depression and cognitive decline.

So, if you haven’t considered incorporating a regular exercise programme as part of your daily life, then maybe now is a good time to start. It’s never too late to ‘commit to be fit’ and healthy.

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