Fitness and The Menopause.
It’s a fact. Women are living twice as long as they did over 150 years ago. The average life expectancy for a woman in the mid 1800’s was 41 years. In 2011, that age
was 82 and its rising.
Most women in the 1800’s would have passed away before they even had a chance to acknowledge the early stages of menopause (the Perimenopause), let alone the full blown 12month shift of the menopause that has us flailing in our beds from heat, losing our shit at the slightest annoyance and eating like there is no tomorrow.
Nowadays, it is expected that women will spend a third of the lives in the post menopausal state. So what does that mean for our quality of life?
Well, here in the west, we have become notoriously, on the whole, sedentary by nature. A hundred years ago, we were much more active. Manual working, less reliant
on machinery and equipment and convenience food, and no chance of spending hours in front of a TV or laptop/phone screen on an evening. However, the lack of
medical intervention and research back then saw us still ending life at an earlier age.
Now here we are, with potentially years ahead of us, and the research shows that not enough of us are investing in our physical pension pot even though the medical research to keep us alive for longer has grown exponentially. The result? The likelihood that we will be living the last 33% of our lives with a disability, severe health condition and/or a swift decrease in that quality of life that we have enjoyed in earlier
Oestrogen is our hidden gem of a hormone. In our younger years, we generally don’t think about our pelvic floor, our skeletal muscle or bone strength because that fabulous hormone mostly takes care of it all. However, as we reach our late 30’s, Oestrogen levels drop and with it goes the elasticity in our pelvic floor, our muscle mass and
bone density. With muscle loss comes the lowering of our metabolism. There begins the arrival of the mid-life weight increase more often than not, around the waist and
buttocks/thighs. Add to that the weakening of the pelvic floor which sees most women reaching for the urinary protection, and there you have the introduction of the perimenopause.
Now you have a choice. You can spend the rest of your life on a “diet” trying to deprive yourself of the foods that give you joy – cakes, confectionery, cheese etc. and
spending hundreds of pounds on Tena Ladies But low calorie diets are not sustainable and quite frankly, neither are the latter.
The best way to counteract what seems like the inevitable, is to take control of the strengthening phase. And before you ask, no, it’s not too late if you have already
been through the menopause. With a well worked routine, you can win back your muscular strength and continue into a ripe old age being independent and strong.
As a personal trainer, I work with clients from 30 to 50+ yrs old. My focus is on functional strength training. That is, I train the muscles to be strong in the movements of
everyday life. Lifting, pulling, pushing, throwing, sitting to standing including mobility and flexibility. I would like to say my clients enjoy the challenges I make
them face with their own bodies, but in all honesty, you would have to ask them!
All I know is that they keep coming back for more and all have experienced improvements whether it be in strength, a reduction in body fat mass
and/or an increase in lean body tissue.
But , I hear many of you say , “ I just don’t have the time”. Except you do. You just don’t possess the time management skills. You don’t need to be
spending hours of time (and money) at the gym to make this a reality. Simple steps, everyday steps like daily fast paced walking. I tell all my clients to
walk every day. That should not be something saved for the weekend.
20mins quality walking per day. You can find the time for that. One of my clients has started getting up earlier and factoring in a longer route to work.
She walks it come rain or shine. And the best bit? She loves it.
Simple time management like when you brush your teeth for 2 minutes (or plus) in the morning, use the time to knock out some quality squats
(assuming you have got up and stretched first, which we should all do anyway!).
Another simple change. Getting up out of your chair, do you push onto a table or the armrest to get up? Then don’t. Focus on using your legs. If you
already find that difficult then try wall sitting for as much of that 2min toothbrush in the morning. Wall sits will help to strengthen those leg muscles which will then be able to get you up out of a chair, unaided. Same
goes for getting up off the floor. Use your legs.
Shopping? Park further away and carry the bags back.
Bringing the shopping into the house? Don’t try to take it all at once, instead make more trips back and forth.
Going to the loo? If you’ve got a downstairs WC and you are downstairs, head to the one upstairs. If you’re upstairs, use the one downstairs. In
short, avoid the convenience shortcuts and challenge your body every day.
Sometimes finding the motivation can be hard by yourself. That is where a personal trainer really helps you find your path to your goal. We walk it with
you. “But it’s costly”. Well, yes I charge for my time. But with most of my clients, they have found that the savings they have made on the reduction in
spending on alcohol or sweet treats and processed ready made foods as I guide them through their nutrition, helps massively with that cost. Others
simply see the benefit of investing in their future self. There is something to try for every one, but if all you did was make the small everyday changes
listed above with a good nutritional balance, you would be well on your way to paying into that physical pension for your postmenopausal life.