Good Morning Friends (and Foes), Happy Seis De Mayo! Huh? I know, humor me…
Anyway, due to my overwhelming female client base, I believe it behooves me (and them) to provide some information on Exercise and Menopause. ALSO, (yes my dear male trainees) I will be covering ways you can combat your aging process as well; so you don’t feel neglected and begin to pout, cry uncontrollably or breakout into a hot flash. So, sit tight and let me address the females first.
Women, as you know, whether you’ve been exercising for years or sedentary for most of your life, you will experience at least some “unwanted” physical changes as you get older. For most, hormone production begins to fluctuate and slow down between your late 30s or early-to-mid 40s. Then, by “50ish”, you’ll “welcome” menopause and all of the “symptoms” that come along with it. The most common are; hot flashes, depression, stress and anxiety, sleep disorders, irritability, osteoporosis and, believe it or not, cardiovascular disease, and, of course, weight gain.
The last two symptoms mentioned, cardiovascular disease and weight gain, normally don’t “resolve” themselves once through this “period”. Please excuse the pun. Or not.
Anyway, along with menopause, other factors such as; reduced activity, decreased metabolism, increase in calories and genetics are co-conspirators to the “demise” of the female body; as they are with the aging male body too.
Now, while we can’t combat genetics “yet”, research has shown that both populations begin to be less active as the aging process continues, which can lead to weight gain. A decreased metabolism is often the result of this lack of activity; both from the perspective of less energy being expended and a lack of a reduction of calories eaten.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you (both females and males) can manage your aging “side effects”.
The American Council on Exercise states: “…a regular program of physical activity can help manage many of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause as well as the related health concerns, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.” As you all should know, other proven benefits of exercise are; improved moods (by releasing endorphins), increase bone mass and density (through resistance training and impact exercise like walking or running), reduced risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes (by improving blood flow), and of course weight control (by continuing to burn calories).
In women, some research has found that exercise increases estrogen levels, which can decrease the severity of hot flashes? The North American Menopause Society goes even further, stating “Exercise may cause the same magnitude of change as that induced by estrogen therapy.”
A study done at the University of Granada in Spain found menopausal women aged 55-72 who started a yearlong exercise program experienced significant improvement in both mental and physical health while those who didn’t exercise got worse.
Men, did you know that as “we” age our natural testosterone levels drop which increases our risk for coronary artery disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, depression and unwanted body fat? Did you also know that resistance training increases testosterone levels naturally?
Remember, “both” of you, a regular exercise routine is crucial in the later years of life. Also, keep in mind that strength training is as equally beneficial, if not more important, than cardiovascular activities, especially if you want to increase your metabolism and lose body fat. But don’t worry, you don’t have to train like Arnold, or me, to reap its benefits. But you do need to challenge to your muscles – without injuring them. So when thinking about cancelling or missing your next training appointment, keep in mind you might be making it up at your doctor’s office.