As a topic which both woman and men often shy away from discussing, I thought it would be important that we address menopause; what it is? When and why it happens? And the effects that it has on the body during exercise.
Many a time, I have had initial consults with clients who have felt embarrassed to tell me that they are going through “the change”. It isn’t just within the gym environment that this happens, it is also happening in society.
So, what is it?
Menopause is a normal change (emphasis on the “normal” bit) that all (note ALL women, you are not alone) experience as they age. The term menopause can describe any of the changes that a woman goes through either immediately before, or after she stops menstruating, signal the end of her reproductive period.
According to the NHS, symptoms will vary from woman to woman, for some it will be a particularly challenging time of their life, whilst others may not even notice it. However, on average symptoms tend to last for approximately 4 years from the last period.
But how does this effect how we feel?
- Many women associate menopause with “getting old” and this can result in the development of negative feelings and emotions. These feelings can sometimes, if left unchecked, develop further into symptoms of depression. Cases of depression can be very common in pre-menopausal women.
- Hot flushes can also be a problem; these can leave us feeling unclean; and in some cases the concern of having a hot flush in public can result in feelings of anxiety.
- Anxiety, mood swings and irritability also have a tendency to be felt more frequently. Yes, you know the situation, you’re having a bad day and someone has to make the daft comment of “you must be menopausal” but really, for many women, it’s no laughing matter.
- All of these symptoms can lead to loss of confidence, and this in hand can make it more difficult for us to carry on our daily routine.
So what effects does it have on exercise, and what are the benefits of a regular exercise routine?
- According to research carried out by the NHS, women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the five to seven years after menopause. This drop in bone density is caused by the reduced levels of Oestrogen, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. In a previous BBG blog there is an excellent article written by Ellis covering the numerous benefits of resistance training for women. This is well worth a read as really highlights the benefits of regular resistance training in your routine; which includes reducing the risk of osteoporosis by helping to maintain stronger bones
- Confidence boost: whether or not you are going through menopause, walking into the gym can be a daunting experience, but by doing so you will come across other women just like you who may be able to share their experiences with you. This ability to share experiences and the positive effects on your health and your physique are a great way to increase your confidence!
- Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in women over 60, and there is evidence to suggest that women are more likely to get blocked arteries after menopause. Therefore, we know that exercise, combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Hot flushes in the night can leave us restless, and lack of sleep can lead to us feeling sluggish throughout the day, so skipping the gym may be on our minds, however, given the benefits that exercise will have on our body, it’s important to persevere through feelings of tiredness, irritability and anxiety. Also there is nothing like a good workout to help you drop off to sleep!!
Why is BBG different?
Many clients tell me how anxious they feel about coming in alone, but I can assure you, you really have nothing to worry about. As trainers, there’s nothing more satisfying for us than to see clients working their stuff on the gym floor, it shows that we have taught you well.
Every single client here at BBG, have lived a journey, whether this be fitness or emotionally orientated with us, they have been where you have been, and may even have shared your experiences. At BBG, you are not just another member, you are part of the family.
Your trainer will listen, understand and help you achieve your goals, whether they be big or small; if needs be, they will adapt, and educate you, but most importantly they will ALWAYS, without a doubt, make you smile.
A helpful site for information on menopause, including a symptoms quiz is https://www.menopausematters.co.uk
For any more information on how Menopause can affect your training; or to discuss any concerns you may have, you know where to find me.
Personal Trainer Sevenoaks
Better Body Group