Thank goodness people are talking more about menopause now. But in my opinion, not nearly enough yet. I for one feel like I've barely been taught anything about it, amongst my 'education'. Most women feel completely in the dark about this stage of their life, aren't really taught anything useful about what's coming up or how to handle it. Agreed?
We want to stay active, enjoy our bodies and be able to move well for as long as we can though right?
Today, specifically let's look at the effects of menopause on the way you exercise.
Here are some common shifts that happen during menopause that affect exercise, and some simple suggestions of what you can do about them:
1. Blood vessels are less compliant (blood pressure changes are slower).
A beta-alanine supplement can act as a vasodilator to increase blood circulation during exercise.
2. You start to sweat later, vasodilate longer & can't handle heat very well
Sweating later into exercise means you don't lose heat as efficiently through sweating. Increase hydration during exercise, and pre-hydration techniques are a good option if looking at doing longer endurance activities. Optimise cooling post-exercise by using cool towels, consuming cool food and fluids in order to help blood flow for recovery post-exercise.
3. Greater sensitivity to carbohydrate
This means blood sugar levels can swing around more, and potentially aiming for a lower carbohydrate intake can help. Eostrogen increases your insulin senstivity, so as your levels of this hormone drops, you can become more insulin resistant; we can work with your body to support your changing needs though! Consider choosing carbohydrates that are lower GI (slower releasing) such as fruits & veggies.
4. Your body uses protein less effectively
The amount and timing of protein can be a lot more important for building lean muscle and holding onto it. Consider increasing your intake of the amino acid leucine, and consider increasing protein intake before, during and after exercise.
5. Less power production
The speed and strength of muscle contractions tend to decrease with age, so focusing on power and speed is an important aspect of post-menopausal training. Lift heavy, lift often and mix it up. Don't be scared of bulk - be more concerned with muscle loss!
If you want to dive into way more depth with any of these (and above is just the briefest synopsis of some of the changes; there's lots of in depth research into each of these), then I recommend reading the book 'ROAR' by Dr Stacy Sims, from which these brief ideas were taken.
Menopause doesn't have to be doom and gloom. Sure, it's a difficult journey of self-discovery, and for many there'll be a lot of trial and error.
I believe we can use it as a chance to connect even deeper to our changing bodies, and work with ourselves to enjoy our bodies, movement and even more confidence in ourselves.
Menopause makes us more, not less.
How has menopause affected your experience of exercise? What sparked the most for you above?
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