Exercise: menopausal woman's best friend
Menopause brings with it a wide range of
changes to a woman's body. Without
doubt, exercise is the menopausal woman's best friend in a way that it allows to
control your body and emotions by using your internal resources.
Each time that you take exercise, your adrenal glands are stimulated to
convert the male hormone androstenedione into oestrogen. A minimum of four
30-minute exercise sessions each week will help to keep your body producing a
As you become older, your
cardio-respiratory fitness, your
strength and your
flexibility all begin to decline. For people who remain active, however these
things decrease at a lower rate (an average of five percent per decade after the
age of about 20, as opposed to nine percent per decade).
Long-term exercise also means that you will have
stronger bones and a lower
osteoporosis than non-exercisers. Although every woman is different,
most of us lose 25 - 35 percent of our bone
mass by the time we reach the age of 65. Bone loss begins around the age of 35,
proceeds slowly up to the menopause, and then accelerates during the five to
seven years after the menopause, when oestrogen levels are low.
Regular exercise may also have a significant effect on our mental agility by
increasing the amount of oxygen supplied to brain. In a comparison between
sedentary older women and older women who exercised regularly, after four months
the latter group processed information faster in tests. Exercise can also
prevent our reaction times from slowing down.
WHICH TYPE OF EXERCISE?
The type of exercise that you take obviously depends largely on resources, how
much time you have to devote to exercise and your own personal preference.
Nowadays there is a wide range of opportunities available, and not only in
sports centers and fitness classes. If you need or prefer to exercise in your
own home, there are many excellent
exercise videos and other publications on the
market that will show you the best ways to preserve your muscle strength and
Sedentary women may also suffer more from chronic
back pain, stiffness,
insomnia, and irregularity. They often have poor circulation,
shortness of breath, and loss of bone mass.
Depression can also be a problem.
Women who regularly
bike, dance, or perform some other aerobic
activity can more easily circumvent these problems and also achieve higher HDL
cholesterol levels. Studies show that women performing aerobic activity or
muscle-strength training reduced mortality from cardio vascular disease and
You may prefer sport such as tennis, badminton or squash, all of which offer the
added attraction of meeting and socializing with people. Likewise, joining an
aerobics or exercise class can provide a social aspect that may encourage you to
to exercise regularly. Less rigorous and more traditional forms of exercise,
such as walking and swimming, offer viable alternatives, and will keep the body
fit and supple. Unfortunately, you cannot "store" the
benefits of exercise; it
must be ongoing to confer its many benefits .
THINKING POSITIVELY :
The first step towards taking charge of your life and managing your menopause is
to take charge of your body. You need to play an active role with all of your
medical and health providers. Be aware of all your options and exercise them in
order to eliminate as many health problems as you can. The
strategy you choose to deal with any menopausal symptoms you may suffer from is
up to you. You could decide on try self-help measures, for instance, or
complementary medicine such as herbal remedies or homeopathy. Alternatively, you
may feel that your symptoms warrant conventional medical help.
To achieve these goals, you need to have a firm sense of your own self-worth and
optimism about the future, and you must be prepared to make an effort. As soon
as you start to take control of your menopausal symptoms, your health and sense
of well-being will benefit greatly.
The second step towards taking charge of your life and managing your menopause
is to take charge of your mind. As with your body, you need to be positive in
your attitude and prepared to make a real effort to get what you want from both
your family and friends, and from medical and other professionals with whom you
come into contact. Try to keep in mind positive statements such as "Femininity
does not have to equal fertility", and remember that the menopause is not the
beginning of the end; it's the beginning of the rest of your life.
While health and vigour during the menopausal years depend a great deal on
following a good diet and taking plenty of regular
exercise, these are by no
means the only resources you have to draw upon. Rest,
relaxation and a variety
of leisure activities will help you keep active and mentally alert. You also
need self-affirming thoughts to maintain your self-confidence and prevent
self-criticism. Never allow yourself to think that you are unattractive, lacklustre or out-of touch.
STAYING MENTALLY FIT :
Without stimulation, our brains will slow down and become feeble . We can learn
a lot by observing the qualities of people whose mental and emotional resilience
we admire. The following qualities come from emotional openness, flexibility and
Independence and recognition of other's independence, privacy and peace.
Lack of self-pity, so that when a problem arises it is looked at
The attitude that nothing is hopeless and problems are there to be
A sense of inner security rather than security gained from controlling
Taking responsibility for our own mistakes.
A few close and loving relationships rather than many superficial ones.
A sense of realism about the goals we set ourselves.
Being in touch with our emotions and feeling free to express them.
MEMORY MAINTENANCE :
You can improve your memory by following the simple measures outlined below.
When you read a book or magazine article, summarize the plot or the
points made in it to a friend.
When you're going shopping, try to collect as many items as possible
without referring to your shopping list.
If you want to remember several things, do it with a
mnemonic - a series
of letters forming a word that will act as a memory aid. For example, you
can abbreviate tasks such as ironing, making a phone call and typing a
letter into the single word, PIT (Phone / Iron / Type).
If you walk into a room and forget why you're there, go back to where
you came from and don't leave until you have remembered.
If you have lost something, track it down. Write down the last six
things you did prior to losing it and where you were for each activity. Draw
a grid with what you were doing along one side and where you were along the
bottom. The item you've lost lies in one of those squares; check out each
one until you come across it.
HOW REGULAR EXERCISE HELPS
Taking regular exercise has many physical and mental benefits.
It gives you:
A reduced risk of heart disease.
A lower chance of developing diabetes mellitus.
Maintenance of muscle tone and strength.
Higher levels of the healthy type of cholesterol in the
Healthier bones and less chance of developing osteoporosis
later in life.
A more efficient immune system to fight disease.
Better appetite control.
Increased mental agility.
Improved sleep quality.
DEEP MUSCLE RELAXATION :
Follow the steps below to relax your body.
Find a peaceful place. Lie on your back, or sit in a comfortable chair,
and close your eyes.
Tense your right hand (or left, if your are left-handed), then let it go
loose. Imagine it feels heavy and warm. Repeat with your right forearm,
upper arm and shoulder, then move on to the right foot, lower leg, upper
leg. Now do exactly the same thing with the left side of your body. By the
time you have finished, your hands, arms and legs should feel heavy, relaxed
and warm. Allow a few seconds for these feelings to develop and to get used
to the sensation.
Now relax the muscles around your hips and waist. Let the relaxation
flow up the abdomen into the chest. You will find that your breathing starts
to slow down.
Let the relaxation go into your shoulders, facial and jaw muscles. Pay
special attention to the muscles around your eyes and forehead - tense them,
then let the frown melt away. Finish imagining that your forehead feels cool
SEEKING DEEP MENTAL RELAXATION :
Follow the steps below to relax your mind.
Allow thoughts to associate freely in your head.
Stop any recurring negative thoughts by saying "no" to them under your
breath, and repeating a firm "no" until they go away.
With your eyes closed, imagine a tranquil scene such as a calm blue sea.
Whatever you imagine, try to see the colour blue, because this is very
Concentrate on your breathing - and make sure it is deep, slow and
natural. Follow each breath as you inhale and exhale.
By now, you should feel calm and rested. You may find it helpful to
repeat a soothing mantra, such as "love", "peace" or "calm".
Remind yourself to keep the muscles of your face, eyes and forehead
relaxed, and imagine that your forehead is cool and smooth.