Moving Through Menopause

Exercising Reduces Symptoms



goodluz/Shutterstock.com

Transitioning through menopause and the years of perimenopausal hormone fluctuation leading up to the finale can be physically and emotionally challenging for many women. Consistently following a healthy diet and positive lifestyle are important, and health researchers, doctors and midlife women can attest to the multidimensional benefits of exercise. Perks may include reduction of menopausal discomfort, better brain function, stronger bones and reversal of estrogen dominance syndrome that can set the stage for fibroids, cystic breasts, cancer, migraines and weight gain.

Get Moving

Studies of 3,500 women in South and Central America have shown that a more active life reduces hot flashes and night sweats. The results, published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, reveal that sedentary individuals often experience increased intensity of related symptoms like insomnia and irritability. Aerobic exercise such as regular walking, hiking, swimming or biking might also help the brain produce neurochemicals that are compromised when estrogen levels drop.

Sue Markovitch, author and owner of Clear Rock Fitness, in Columbus, Ohio, recommends aerobic exercise. “I believe our bodies were made to move. One of the amazing gifts of fitness is it’s truly never too late. When we incorporate daily movement in our lives, all the other systems in the body will work more according to plan. Simply taking a daily walk helps balance brain chemistry,” says Markovitch, who specializes in improving fitness levels for women over 40. “Walking is fitness magic, whether it’s on a treadmill, outside or in the pool. Get your heart rate into an aerobic zone, preferably for 30 to 45 minutes. I’ve heard testimony after testimony of improved sleep, less back or joint pain and better mood.” She also suggests adding a few weekly sessions of resistance training to daily walks.

Most health professionals agree that balance is the key. Jeanne D. Andrus, a menopause expert and author of I Just Want to Be ME Again, in Covington, Louisiana, recommends cardio, resistance training and exercise that increases flexibility and core strength. “For a beginner, this may include two to four days of walking, one to three days of strength training and one to three days of yoga or Pilates, with the goal being three and a half hours of activity per week.”

Of course, all of these need to be at appropriate levels for the woman’s condition and goals,” advises Andrus.

According to studies led by Helen Jones, Ph.D., from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, three, 30-to-45-minute aerobic sessions a week reduced hot flashes and yielded the most significant results.

Go Easy

While some conventional approaches suggest vigorous exercise, many holistic professionals caution against extremes. “It’s important to individualize, and in my ongoing research it’s clear that the high-intensity strength and sculpting approach so often promoted and perceived as necessary to maintain shape, weight and health is a myth,” says Dr. Eden Fromberg, an obstetrician, gynecologist and founder of Holistic Gynecology New York, in Manhattan.

Instead, Fromberg recommends an integrated approach to exercise that supports connective tissue and joints. While some forms of exercise including yoga are perceived as gentler than others, she warns against an all-or-nothing strategy, noting, “Intense, deep stretching and joint-straining may cause injury more easily during hormonal transition.”

Andrus concurs, “If high cortisol levels are involved and accompanied by insomnia, stress placed on the body by rigorous exercise will increase these levels and actually lower available energy.” She also advises adopting a non-aggressive approach for osteoporosis. “Weight-bearing exercise is a must, but if bone loss is already present, start much more gradually to ensure that bones are protected.”

Lighten Up

Exercise can be more enjoyable than doing chores. Recreational activities such as dancing, biking or hopping on the swings at the playground are fun ways to do something good for both body and spirit.

Menopause can be a time for personal expansion and an invitation for self-care that might have been neglected or postponed. Fromberg believes we can all revitalize our resources at any stage of life, and the years surrounding menopause call for us to tune into ourselves even more. “What seems like a disruption is an opportunity to listen deeply and reimagine and reorganize one’s life on physical, emotional and spiritual levels.”


Marlaina Donato is a freelance writer, author and multimedia artist. Connect at MarlainaDonato.com.


This article appears in the May 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

News Briefs

The S P A C E Sanctuary Opens in Chappaqua

The S P A C E Sanctuary Opens in Chappaqua

“It was created as a place to gather, rest, breathe and heal.”
Bernadette Bloom Discusses Esoteric Healing on The Transformation Show

Bernadette Bloom Discusses Esoteric Healing on The Transformation Show

5 to 6 p.m. on March 7
Ward Off Spring Allergens with Nettle Leaf Tea

Ward Off Spring Allergens with Nettle Leaf Tea

Something as simple as drinking nettle leaf tea prior to and during early spring can be a helpful preventive practice.
Petition Demands Environmental Impact Study of Cricket Valley Project

Petition Demands Environmental Impact Study of Cricket Valley Project

Davenport is urging people to sign the petition asking New York leaders for an updated environmental impact study of the Cricket Valley Energy project.
Fresh Organic Becoming ‘Go-To’ Salon for Hair and Scalp Issues

Fresh Organic Becoming ‘Go-To’ Salon for Hair and Scalp Issues

Feeding the Future in Yonkers

Feeding the Future in Yonkers

Feed Your Future is part of a larger mission to empower communities to reclaim and revitalize environmentally and economically under-served neighborhoods.
Riverkeeper Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Riverkeeper Film Screening and Panel Discussion

5:30 to 9 p.m., March 5, at the Newburgh Brewing Company
NewLife Expo Returns to New York City in March

NewLife Expo Returns to New York City in March

March 22 through 24
Hilltop Hanover Farm Holds Maple Fest Weekends

Hilltop Hanover Farm Holds Maple Fest Weekends

March 23 to 24 and March 30 to 31
Rhinebeck Pilates Plans April Conference at Jacob’s Pillow

Rhinebeck Pilates Plans April Conference at Jacob’s Pillow

April 26 to 28
CBD Info Talks in Bedford Hills

CBD Info Talks in Bedford Hills

Free informational session on CBD products every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Juice Detoxes Work Better and Faster

Juice Detoxes Work Better and Faster

“The body doesn’t have to break down the solids, and the results are faster and better.”
Karen Drucker: Live at the United Palace

Karen Drucker: Live at the United Palace

7 p.m. on April 8
Free Spirit Holistic Expo Coming to Area

Free Spirit Holistic Expo Coming to Area

June 2, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Chef Alex Raij Serves Up Glynwood Farm Dinner

Chef Alex Raij Serves Up Glynwood Farm Dinner

6:30 to 10 p.m. on March 9
Center for Green Building Opens in Mamaroneck

Center for Green Building Opens in Mamaroneck

Grand opening, including complimentary food and drinks, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 23.
Equilibrium Studio Opens in Pawling

Equilibrium Studio Opens in Pawling

Equilibrium offers yoga, Pilates and Barre, as well as stretching and strengthening classes designed to help people rehabilitate from injuries and improve their athletic performance.
Dance the Weekend Away in Saratoga

Dance the Weekend Away in Saratoga

February 15 through 17
Natural Remedies Can Boost Immunity in Winter

Natural Remedies Can Boost Immunity in Winter

There is scientific evidence that acupuncture has a positive effect on the immune system.
Facial Massage Has Holistic Benefits

Facial Massage Has Holistic Benefits

“A well-performed facial massage is a glorious treat that will reduce puffiness, improve skin tone and enrich complexion."
‘Grandfather of Integrative Dermatology’ to Teach His Methods

‘Grandfather of Integrative Dermatology’ to Teach His Methods

“I encourage anyone living with unsolved chronic skin conditions to make an appointment and see how we can help you.”
Opioid Crisis Focus in Somers

Opioid Crisis Focus in Somers

1 to 3 p.m. February 7
Valerie Nivar Offers Natural Solutions for ‘Invisible Illnesses’

Valerie Nivar Offers Natural Solutions for ‘Invisible Illnesses’

“I am passionate about empowering my clients to achieve motivation and confidence and to live their best life.”
Sugaring Program at Sugar Hill Farm

Sugaring Program at Sugar Hill Farm

February 23
Holistic Chamber of Commerce Adds Poughkeepsie Chapter

Holistic Chamber of Commerce Adds Poughkeepsie Chapter

The new chapter will promote and support holistic and sustainable professionals and business owners in the Hudson Valley.
Synchronicity Brings Healing through Psychic Readings

Synchronicity Brings Healing through Psychic Readings

“These readings help offer guidance and insight into life situations.”
Microdermabrasion Now Offered by Daniela Hortencio

Microdermabrasion Now Offered by Daniela Hortencio

“It’s basically an exfoliation and skin rejuvenation procedure that leaves skin looking softer and brighter.”
Alternatives to Violence Project Seeking Workshop Facilitators

Alternatives to Violence Project Seeking Workshop Facilitators

The next Basic workshop in Westchester will take place March 8 to 10.

Add your comment: