Struggling with the symptoms of menopause? We chat to Charlotte Tooth, leading trainer at functional fitness brand TRX, to discover how upping your fitness regime could ease your hormonal symptoms. Charlotte also gives her top fitness tips for working out during the menopause…
How are fitness and menopause linked?
Women go through a lot of change when they are going through the menopause. This can have a huge impact on your fitness levels. Charlotte explains: ‘From a fitness perspective, a natural decline in oestrogen levels may cause a reduction in muscle mass, a decrease in bone density and a decrease in muscular strength.
‘What’s more, going through the menopause can increase the risk for women to suffer with cardiac problems and sadly experience mental health challenges too.’ This makes an active lifestyle crucial for maintaining your overall health during this stage of your life.
However, as Charlotte stresses, it’s not all bad: ‘Acknowledging that these changes are bound to happen is always good but making slight tweaks to our daily lives and our exercise routine can reduce the symptoms we face and really improve our ability to cope with them.’
What benefits does fitness offer for women’s health?
The benefits of exercise to a woman’s body are endless. Charlotte explains: ‘Exercise can reduce age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass and muscle tissue quality, improve brain health/function and increase your functional capacity.’
Exercise can also be hugely beneficial for mental health. Just like your physical health, it is crucial to always look after your mental well-being, especially during the menopause. ‘We know exercise is incredible for anxiety and depression, but it can also help you to feel capable of dealing with other areas of your life. My favourite saying is “Make your workouts hard so life becomes easy”,’ Charlotte adds.
How to ease menopause symptoms through fitness
Here are Charlotte’s top tips for building an active lifestyle suited to your needs…
1. Trial different exercises to see what works for you
There are certain changes you can make to your fitness routine and everyday life that will significantly improve the severity of your symptoms. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s menopause journey is different; what works for one woman might not work for another.
Because of this, you should expect to undergo a period of ‘trial and error’, as you settle into a fitness routine and lifestyle that works for you. As Charlotte explains: ‘Once you find something that helps, regularity is crucial. Getting into a routine with your exercise and physical activity can help increase muscle mass, bone density and improve cardiovascular fitness.
2. Work fitness into your day-to-day routine
It’s great to set aside some time each day which is dedicated to exercise. However, it’s also important to work physical activity into your day-to-day life too. This is a great way to build an active lifestyle, without spending hours on end working out.
Charlotte explains: ‘While exercise is purposeful activity that is planned and structured, to improve or maintain fitness, physical activity is everything else that involves energy expenditure – like walking to the shops or going to the park. Each week, try to spend time planning both of these into your routine!’
3. Try resistance training and cardio
There are certain activities and exercises that hold greater benefits for women who are going through the menopause. Two key examples are resistance training and cardiovascular activity.
‘Regular resistance training can help to improve bone density, increase muscular strength and elicit fat loss, while cardio will improve cardiovascular health, reducing the chance of cardiac issues.’
Charlotte also recommends investing in some bodyweight workout equipment, like the TRX Suspension trainer. This is an adjustable piece of kit that can be anchored from the ceiling, a door or even a tree in the park. You can do a huge variety of exercises on the straps including squats, lunges, planks, push ups, pull ups and more.
‘The great thing about the straps is that there is a huge emphasis on the core and stability. In every exercise, you have to put the same amount of pressure in each of the straps. This means your body gets used to working evenly on both sides, which is great for addressing your imbalances,’ Charlotte adds.
You can also find a variety of strength and cardio workouts on The TRX Training Club app.
4. Work towards a fitness goal to stay motivated
It can be hard to stay motivated if you haven’t got a target in sight. Charlotte recommends working towards a goal: ‘Keep your routine in check and find some accountability with a training partner, Personal Trainer or even a fitness app.’
Rather than having one big, vague goal in mind (like ‘get fitter’), try setting small, manageable goals. For example, if you want to take up running, your first goal could be to run 1 kilometre without stopping to walk. Set new goals each week, and revel in the satisfaction of ticking each one off!
Charlotte Tooth is a leading trainer at functional fitness brand TRX.