As we welcome in the new year, many of us start to think about our fitness goals. It might be improving your running time, becoming more active in general or maybe you just want to lose that extra weight left over from the holidays. Whatever your reasoning may be, physical fitness is always important. Especially as we age.
Why is fitness so important?
Once we reach our forties, we begin to notice changes in our bodies. You may notice easier weight gain, a decrease in strength, a decline in your immune system as well as other changes. While we can’t stop the aging process, our physical fitness and how we treat our bodies have a large impact on how well we age and how good we feel while doing it.
Exercise during and after menopause helps to prevent weight gain, reduces the risk of cancer, strengthens bones, lowers the risk of other diseases while also boosting your mood. I don’t know about you, but I’m already on board! While many people see exercise as a chore and a bore, try to find different ways of looking at it. Yoga and meditation can strengthen the body and mind while giving you that zen ‘fresh out of the spa’ feeling. Want something with a little more energy? Try dancing! Find something that gets you up and moving while still having fun.*
Great ways to get moving during menopause
Like we mentioned up above, yoga can be a great way of getting physical while also helping you mentally. While no two women experience menopause the same, supported and restorative yoga poses may offer some relief. These can help calm your nerves by centering your mind and offer comfort for hot flashes, irritability, and fatigue. There are many different types of yoga, like Bikram (heated room), Anusara (beginner), Ashtanga (calming), Hatha (physical postures), Iyengar (alignment and pose focused), Restorative (relaxing and soothing), and Vinyasa (smooth, controlled transition from pose to pose). It’s best to talk with the instructor first and make sure you get the support you need during the class.
Lively Housework or Yard Work
Calmly dusting or wiping down furniture may not get your blood pumping but vigorous house or yard work that elevates your heart rate does. Lively housework utilizes your larger muscle groups, such as quads, glutes, and core. Instead of bending at the waist, engage your legs by dropping down onto one knee, or squatting using both knees to help keep your core isolated and strong. If you are new to exercise or don’t enjoy the group atmosphere, this activity is perfect for you. Always consult your doctor before any kind of physical activity but we recommend you start with 10 minutes of light activity, slowly boosting physical intensity as it becomes easier.
For many women strength training is foreign. However, there’s no time like the present to learn! Regular strength training can help to reduce body fat, help you maintain bone density, strengthen your muscles and burn calories more efficiently. Try weight machines, hand-held weights or resistance tubing. This type of exercise is also wonderful for muscle growth as well as bone strength which can slow bone loss after menopause, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Always consult with your doctor, physical therapist or certified trainer at the gym about the best movements to support your body.
When setting your fitness goals, make sure to be realistic in your expectations. Know your limits and listen to your body. If you are just starting out, it might be a good idea to consult your doctor or hire a personal trainer to get ideas for workouts that are right for you and your body. Make sure your goals are realistic, attainable and specific. Instead of just telling yourself you’re going to exercise more, find something specific you can do every day or throughout the week. You can also recruit a friend or partner to keep yourself accountable and motivated.
The New Year is always a great starting point for all of us to shake off the cobwebs, get up off the couch and use that motivation better ourselves. We can all get up and move somehow whether you’re 40 and just beginning to feel menopause coming on or you’re in your 70’s and have a harder time with mobility. Setting goals are just as much about our mental health and longevity than it is our physical well-being. Never give up. Find the fun in whatever activity you choose and focus on how you feel instead of how you look. Whether you are premenopausal, right in the thick of it or postmenopausal, physical fitness is so important to staying healthy and enjoying all that life has to offer.