Overwhelming evidence shows that the state of health before menopause impacts the menopausal transition. Exercise and recreational movement are key to your overall state of health: they recreate physical structures in your body such as bone and muscle tissue that would otherwise naturally decline with age. As well, movement supports our metabolism and keeps insulin levels balanced, and it is essential for keeping mentally sharp as we age. The similarities between the effects of estrogen and exercise training for women’s health have been revealed in recent research. Exercise and estrogen both have anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body. Exercise and estrogen both increase the number and health of “metabolic energy powerhouses”: organelles called mitochondria. Exercise and estrogen both strengthen bones and keep the immune system healthy. Some researchers propose that the right kind and amount of exercise during perimenopause and post- menopause could counteract the effects of declining estrogen throughout a woman’s life.
Why move During Menopause ?
Exercise and recreational movement are one of the best therapies for chronic stress, insomnia and building healthy adipose (or fat) tissue. Even better, research is showing that physical activity and exercise may have the same effects on your body and brain that estrogen has.
The recommended amount of exercise and movement during menopausal transition is about 300 minutes per week (or about 40 minutes a day), just slightly different than for women in earlier stages of life.
While that may seem like a lot, the activity doesn’t have to happen in one chunk.
Multiple short amounts of movement totaling 40 minutes per day will suffice – and any movement you do will add up quickly. Knowing all this, and knowing that good health has a positive impact on the transition into menopause, it is never too late to start increasing recreational movement and exercise and feeling the benefits.
Accessing Exercise & Recreational Movement.
Accessing exercise and recreational movement can be as simple as adjusting your daily routine. Typically though, increasing your exercise and activity levels involves planning and accepting some moderate changes to your lifestyle.
If you find that you don’t have time to squeeze recreational activities into your day, remember, they don’t need to take up lots of time. Plan some short walks around your neighborhood or 10 minute blocks of stretching on your living room floor. Once a week, walk to the shopping center instead of driving. Be creative. If you take transit, get off one stop early and walk the extra distance.
Many women live in a movement-restricted environment, working long hours in a small work-space, or living in cramped housing. There are many free yoga and movement videos that can be completed on a mat with minimal or no extra equipment. If you need to get out of your work or living space, try joining a gym, a martial arts dojo, or a dance studio. Community centers, schools and the YWCA also have many facilities.