5 Key Exercise Strategies to Help You Thrive During Perimenopause
Hormone changes, a slower metabolism, and changing health risks can all add up to weight gain in the run-up to and during menopause. Because of this, it’s important to switch up your fitness routine as perimenopause looms.
A common mistake that women make when they hit their 40’s is to continue to employ the same workout strategies that they used in the 20’s and 30’s. Unfortunately, this approach has you working against your body, rather than with it.
Exercise in general is the perfect way to boost your mood and get some feel-good endorphins. It’s also hugely important for keeping menopause-related weight gain in check and tackling belly fat.
Beyond this, certain types of exercise can help counteract some of the side effects of perimenopause.
You may not have the same drive to exercise — especially if you’re experiencing hot flashes — but the right type of fitness routine can make your perimenopause transition easier.
Here’s how exercise can help ease the transition through perimenopause and beyond.
Aerobic exercise helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Your risk of heart disease is often higher during menopause. Changing estrogen levels are a key factor in this, and aerobic exercise is a great way to keep your heart healthy.
Cardio work gets your heart pumping faster and your lungs working harder. This helps make your cardiovascular system stronger.
Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days. Walking, jogging, running, dancing, and cycling are great choices for this. Choose an activity that brings you joy, rather than drudgery.
If you’re new to cardio, ease yourself in with lower-intensity exercises to start with. As you get fitter, you can up the intensity and length of your workouts. A great way to assess how your body is dealing with the stress of changing up your exercise routine is to measure your resting heart rate.
Strength training helps improve bone density, which can become lower after menopause. Doing strength training in perimenopause is incredibly important for keeping your bones healthy and decreasing the risk of fractures and broken bones.
Muscle tone commonly decreases during menopause, too and this is another area that strength training can help with.
A lot of women are reluctant when it comes to strength training — it does tend to conjure up images of overdeveloped muscles, after all! This is a big myth since strength training won’t automatically give you epic muscles.
It is very effective for toning the body and helping prevent weight gain, though. If you want to stay in shape during perimenopause, strength training is an important tool for your toolbox.
If you’ve never lifted weights before, it’s smart to get advice from a personal trainer or another fitness professional to make sure your form is right and that you’re not risking injury.
Alternating higher-intensity cardio exercise with rest periods helps burn fat — especially belly fat. This can be more effective for reducing body fat compared to doing a moderate form of exercise that stays at the same tempo and intensity.
Including interval training some days can help avoid weight gain during perimenopause and improve heart health.
Switching between walking and jogging for differing time periods is an easy way to do this. You can get more intense if you prefer but the key element is to vary the number of minutes that you perform specific parts of your interval training — for example, walking for 3 minutes and jogging for 1 minute.
Another example is to include hills or stairs when walking. This change in elevation will increase your heart rate in short bursts.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates can be helpful for reducing your stress levels. Menopause is a hugely stressful time, but this type of exercise can help you deal with it in a healthier way.
Doing yoga regularly may also help improve insomnia. Sleep challenges are a common side effect of menopause for many women.
Even hot flashes can potentially be reduced, according to some research. Yoga can also help with fatigue, irritability, mood swings, and anxiety linked to perimenopause.
Restorative yoga poses can be perfect for perimenopause symptoms. These likely won’t over challenge or overheat your body in the same way that more intense yoga poses can.
This is significant if you’re experiencing frequent hot flashes since the more vigorous yoga poses can make them worse.
Stretching is often overlooked as part of a fitness routine but it’s super important as you get older.
Stretching for just 5-10 minutes per day can increase your flexibility and range of motion — especially if it’s part of a broader fitness routine.
Including stretching in your sleep hygiene routine may help to cope better with perimenopause too.
In one study, stretching for 10 minutes before bedtime helped menopausal women to reduce their symptoms, compared to women who did no stretching at all before going to bed. It didn’t reduce hot flashes, but participants self-reported that their psychological symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, and sleep problems were improved.
It is important for you to take into consideration your unique body when choosing an exercise strategy. What works for someone else may not work for you.