November 30, 2021
How Exercise Can Help with the Physiological Changes and Symptoms of Menopause (Part 2)
The great news about exercise and menopause
Being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight can help to offset health concerns associated with menopause. Focusing on lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep, stress, and exercise can help to offset these risks. Exercise has a number of benefits including improved sleep and reduction in disturbances, improved mood, improved weight control, increase or maintenance of bone density, improved strength, reduced incidence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, enhanced mental health, reduced stress, improved balance and falls prevention.
With menopause you may see a few changes to your weight. There are a number of factors that contribute to weight, and these other lifestyle factors should be considered in weight loss. However, in today's blog we'll just be focusing on exercise. We know resistance training or weight training will help to improve your lean body mass, therefore increasing your basal metabolic rate, helping to reduce your body weight. What this means is that your muscles actually burn more energy, and the more muscles we have, the faster our metabolism is and therefore help you lose weight. Essentially you'll be burning more weight even while you're at rest.
We know with menopause that we may see changes to bone density as well, but we also know exercise can help to maintain or even improve your bone health. Our bones love physical activity. They love muscle contraction and being loaded with things like jumps, hops, skips, bounds, and even general play. Weight bearing and resistance exercises are the best sort of exercises for your bones. Weight-bearing exercises force you to work against gravity and they include things such as walking, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and even dancing.
Sarcopenia, as we discussed previously, is an age-associated decline of skeletal muscle mass. It's important to improve muscle mass and function in order to prevent frailty. The strongest way that we can fight sarcopenia is to keep your muscles active. A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training can actually prevent or even reverse muscle loss.
Exercise can help with blood pressure as your blood vessels also love physical activity. Regular aerobic training and resistance training can lead to acute and chronic vasodilation response of your blood vessels. What does this mean? Let's look at the Monash freeway for example during peak hour. Exercise is like an extra lane that has been added to the Monash during this peak hour, making it easier for cars to flow through. This is also what exercise is like. Blood pressure after exercise actually drops and can remain lower for greater than 24 hours.
Exercise can also help to improve cholesterol levels. Regular aerobic training and resistance exercise can increase HDL (good cholesterol), and reduce LDL levels (bad cholesterol).
Menopause is a natural part of aging, but the physiological changes that may result can be improved with lifestyle changes. An individualised exercise program is a fantastic way to help to reduce your health risk factors and it can improve many of the physiological changes that do result.
If you have any questions regarding menopause and how exercise physiology can help you, don't hesitate to contact us here at Health in Balance.