Menopause: Simple Exercises to Stay in Shape
Exercise is a great ally to help women through menopause and its various unpleasant effects (fatigue, weight gain, irritability, hot flashes), although it often falls by the wayside during this time of life.
Strength training exercises working core strength and the thighs help build muscle mass. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ laflor / Istock.com)
Exercise is a great ally to help women through menopause and its various unpleasant effects (fatigue, weight gain, irritability, hot flashes), although it often falls by the wayside during this time of life. However, alternating strengthening exercises and regular cardiovascular exercise can help fight weight gain and reduce the frequency of hot flashes. Nutritionist Raphaël Gruman suggests a simple program to help get menopausal women moving every day.
During menopause, women suffering from physical and psychological symptoms tend to be less active. Yet several studies have shown that that women who are regularly active during menopause can significantly reduce their weight and BMI (Body Mass Index). The least active women may also enter menopause earlier.
Nutritionist Raphaël Gruman has developed a four-week program to help women get into -- or get back into -- sport after the age of 50. The program includes short daily exercises to help women maintain muscle mass and strength while keeping weight down during menopause. Here's a look at some of the exercises he suggests.
Strength training to sculpt the silhouette and boost muscle mass
Loss of muscle mass is a common side-effect of menopause, and it can be difficult to build back up. Strength training exercises working core strength (the plank) and the thighs (wall sit) are the most effective exercises for strengthening and building muscle mass quickly. Every other day, pick either exercise and hold the position for 30 seconds, repeating it three times.
Otherwise, try signing up for a local exercise class. Pilates is Gruman's pick for conditioning the body's deep stabilizing muscles with precise results. Other quick but effective exercises include lunges and sit-ups. Aim for a series of 20, repeated three times.
Easing in to cardiovascular exercise
After the age of 50 and with no previous training, don't suddenly start exercise sessions that are too intense. However, cardiovascular exercise is essential for burning fat and maintaining a stable weight. To boost metabolism, it's best to do 30-minute sessions every other day, alternating with strengthening exercises. Try 30 minutes of jogging (15 minutes is fine at first) -- if your back and joints allow -- alternating with 30 minutes of cycling, either outdoors or on an exercise bike. Short interval-based running sessions are a good option for burning fat quickly. For example, start running for five minutes at a normal pace, then do three minutes at a much higher speed, then drop back to the initial pace.
To help prevent the loss of bone mass while also working cardiovascular fitness, walking is a very good compromise for anyone who needs to avoid high-impact activities. At the weekend, try to fit in a long walk of around an hour at a brisk pace, or try walking with sticks -- sometimes called Nordic walking -- to get the arms and upper body working too. Swimming and aqua gym also help bust cellulite and maintain a healthy weight.
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