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Gabby Logan: the power of exercising in midlife

This week Dr Louise is joined by broadcaster and former international gymnast, Gabby Logan. Gabby is the host of her own successful podcast The Mid Point where she speaks about midlife challenges, and here she shares her own experiences of the menopause.

Gabby reflects on the impact of the menstrual cycle on female athletes and the positive impact of speaking about it and increasing awareness. She shares how exercise is helping her to forge and cement friendships and make time for herself, and how HRT helped her to rekindle her vigour for exercise. 

Finally, Gabby shares three reasons why we should all be exercising, regardless of our age:

1. It’s future proofing. I want to be active in my 80s, playing golf, going for long walks and getting myself out of a chair without it being a kind of a national incident. So I’m doing things now that are going to help empower me.

2. It’s good for your mental health. In my 20s, I realised somehow that exercise was good for me mentally. I knew that going for a run was about clearing my brain, getting back on track if I’d had a wobbly day or starting the day well. That feeling has grown and I know exercise is vital for mental health.

3. It’s about balance. Think 80/20. If you are going to fall off, have a glass of wine or a gin and tonic at the weekends, don’t feel bad about it. The exercise I’m doing will hopefully help to negate some of the toxins I might occasionally put inside me.

Follow Gabby on Instagram @gabbylogan


Dr Louise Newson: [00:00:11] Hello. I’m Dr Louise Newson. I’m a GP and menopause specialist, and I’m also the founder of the Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre here in Stratford-upon-Avon. I’m also the founder of the free balance app. Each week on my podcast, join me and my special guests where we discuss all things perimenopause and menopause. We talk about the latest research, bust myths on menopause symptoms and treatments, and often share moving and always inspirational personal stories. This podcast is brought to you by the Newson Health Group, which has clinics across the UK dedicated to providing individualised perimenopause and menopause care for all women. Today on the podcast, I’m very delighted and feel very privileged actually to interview someone who many of you know and is a real inspiration for so many people, men and women. So I’ve got with me in the studio Gabby Logan, who I’ve been sort of connecting with on and off over the last couple of years, poking sometimes when I’m feeling very frustrated. And she’s always been very supportive about my work, but also how to help women in general who are perimenopausal and menopausal. So welcome today, Gabby. [00:01:32][81.3]

Gabby Logan: [00:01:32] Thank you so much for having me on. How are you? [00:01:34][1.5]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:01:35] Yes, I’m good actually. In fact I feel really positive today. I’ve just had a really good, empowering meeting with my research team and we’re getting through some really incredible research because we’ve got big numbers here of the clinic of what we are doing. And, you know, I want women to be the best version of themselves when they’re perimenopausal and menopausal. And clearly that hasn’t happened for decades. But I feel we’re on the cusp of a change. I don’t know what you feel on your side because obviously you speak to a lot of people through your work, through your podcasts, everything else. Do you feel things are changing Gabby? [00:02:05][30.6]

Gabby Logan: [00:02:05] It certainly feels the conversation is more abundant, that people are more receptive to have it. And I wonder sometimes if it’s a bit like when you’re pregnant or you’re trying to get pregnant, everybody seems to be pregnant, and I kind of sometimes wonder if I’m seeing more of it because I’m kind of in this period of my life, do you know what I mean? And whether it is a real thing that it is actually, you know, kind of there’s more conversation about it and more… But I think there is, I think there is. I mean, just this week, there’s been some big news stories surrounding menopause in the workplace. And I think a kind of acceptance almost from those who seem to feel that somehow women were making things up for a long time or it was, you know, nowhere near as bad as people kind of were saying. In fact they weren’t saying, were they, that was the problem. I think people weren’t saying. [00:02:49][43.9]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:02:50] That was absolutely a problem. Yeah. And I think there is still this… I was at a conference last week actually, I’m on a board of something called WIMIN, which is Women in Medicine International Network, it stands for, and I was talking about medical gaslighting and the menopause, which is a huge topic, but women have been gaslit, if that’s the word, for many years, but also because they’ve not understood. So if they’ve gone to a healthcare professional and they’ve had low mood, they’ve had anxiety, they’ve had poor sleep and somebody hasn’t been trained in the menopause, the first thing they think about, are you depressed, are you anxious? What’s going on? And then women feel that, oh, maybe I have got a mental health disorder. And obviously we know the word hysteria is related to hysterectomy. So lots of women, they still are now actually, in mental health institutes or hospitals, you know, because of their mind has changed because of their lack of hormones. So. But you’re right. I think the conversation is definitely changing. So before we talk too much about that, I’m really keen though Gabby just for you to talk a bit about, sort of, you, like how have you managed to get into the most inspirational sportsperson, really. But you’ve done so much yourself physically in sport, but also the way that you present and I mean I suppose as a woman, but as a woman things are so much harder and you know, you must have sort of come up with quite a few obstructions over the way, but you’re obviously made a strong stuff to keep going and still keep having this hugely regarded and respected reputation that you have. [00:04:18][88.1]

Gabby Logan: [00:04:19] Yeah, I mean, I’ve been doing this a long time and I do it a long time now, I started out in the kind of mid to late 90s and there certainly weren’t as many women working in sports broadcasting across newspapers or TV, and we didn’t really have an internet as such. [00:04:34][15.0]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:04:34] No. [00:04:34][0.0]

Gabby Logan: [00:04:36] I started out, I certainly didn’t have social media. And so I’ve seen enormous change in the industry. I’ve seen loads more women come through, not just in front of the camera, behind it as well. And I, you know, I’ve talked in the past about kind of the attitudes that were in the workplace, which I think probably prevailed in other workplaces. I mean just recently, we’ve seen some terrible reports coming out about the medical profession, about surgery and men. And so it wasn’t a unique environment, sports broadcasting, it wasn’t like everywhere else was you know, the paradigm of kind of, you know, brilliance and great behaviour. I’m sure if you worked in the City in the late 90s as a woman on a trading floor or you worked in a big top consultancy company and you were the only woman there, you’d experience some questionable behaviours. That’s not to say everybody, you know. But of course, there’s always going to be people who in those times didn’t behave well. And thankfully we’ve come to not accept those behaviours. And that means that it’s more encouraging for women to kind of step into those male only spaces which that, you know, there just aren’t any anymore. I think, you know, they’re very few and that women feel now that they can, in my industry certainly, you know be heard, have great jobs, have great positions, move all the way to the top. So, you know, I’m 50 this year and I was 50 in April and you know this definitely at the beginning of my career I felt like it was the turning of a tanker. And actually what happens is, you know, basic physics moves a bit quicker, doesn’t it, as a big part of the tanker turns. And that feels like the last ten years. Yeah. There’s so much change and growth. [00:06:00][84.3]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:06:00] Yeah. Which is really amazing, isn’t it? And just looking at some female sports, you know, look what’s happened with football and women. That wouldn’t have happened 10, 20, certainly in the 90s. It’s this respect and there’s still a long way to go. But certainly women are being recognised so much more across the board. But I think we’re still threatened. I was looking at some research recently about the differences even across the board table, how women are represented. And if a woman comes across with lots of ideas and sort of, if they interrupt somebody across a board, then it’s seen as very hostile move that they’re agitated, almost bullying in their behaviour. Whereas when a man does that, they never use the word bullying at all. They would say, oh, how entrepreneurial, how incredible. They’ve got all these ideas they want to share. And I’ve certainly seen that in some of the meetings I’ve been to, because a lot of my work comes from frustration. So when people, certainly in our organisation, are telling me no, Louise, we can’t do this, we can’t do that, we haven’t got funds for this, we haven’t got resources for that. And I’m saying, yeah, but every day I’m talking to suicidal women and actually, how long is this going to go on for? Because, you know, it’s a real issue. But I understand as a business there are different things and different priorities, but it’s the way that we are sometimes misrepresented, I think. And I may be, a lot of women are more vocal and have this sort of extra sense of things that are going on. And I think that’s certainly happening with hormonal health. And as we’ve spoken before, it’s not just about the perimenopause and menopause. And we talk about hormones as well. I really worry about the sort of gender inequality in sport. And I was talking in the Houses of Parliament about it recently, but looking at younger people, because it’s really hard to get girls into sport, isn’t it. And we know that hormonal changes that can occur, certainly in women who have PMS, PMDD, with eating disorders, even people on some types of contraception. It can affect their stamina, but it can also affect their ability to exercise and also mentally their, you know, their mood can change. [00:08:05][124.9]

Gabby Logan: [00:08:06] Yeah. And it shouldn’t be seen as being a barrier for me. You know, it’s just what women have to deal with. And actually acknowledging that, I think, is really healthy because, you know, for a quarter of any athlete’s life, the way they train and the energy levels they have, if you look at kind of it within their menstrual cycle, kind of, you know, the dip in the hormones and the dip in the energy levels, it’s proven that your strength at certain points in the cycle goes down massively. So women now understand where their strength gains can be, you know, better. So understanding their own cycles helps them to get, you know, a better result from their training. So I think those things are positive because I think people kind of 30 years ago were kind of blindly training, not realising, for example, that there was a greater propensity to be injured at certain points in the cycle. So having that knowledge is power for female athletes. And of course there will be people for whom, you know, the symptoms of their PMS is just too crippling to even think of training. But it shouldn’t be seen, you know, as, you know I don’t like the idea that it’s an illness, do you know what I mean, or that it’s something that could stop women because we’re going to keep having periods, right? So we’re not going to try and eradicate periods. So what we need to do is work with our bodies and see how powerful being fit and healthy is actually, in terms of, you know, your PMS might be affected or how your moods might be affected. And that applies right through the range of your life, doesn’t it, you know? And it is harder on the days when you’re feeling really rubbish because of, you know, where you are in your cycle. But I always felt when I was a gymnast and then when I was, you know, starting to just train for life, that through my life that I never regretted that exercise, do you know what I mean. I always felt better for it afterwards and the endorphins that were released. So I think we should be positive about what we know about women’s bodies now because I think that will help athletes of the future. But I also think it’s really positive to acknowledge that women go through a lot. And to get themselves on the start line of any sporting event in any major games. You know, you look at athletes who’ve spoken out about it. Dina Asher-Smith spoke about how her period affected her at the last Olympics and how it affects her training. And I think that’s really positive that women can have their voice heard in that space. [00:10:09][123.4]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:10:10] It’s so important, isn’t it? Because I think even more, as you say, when we didn’t have social media, but now we do, you only see people in social media at their best. And so then you can feel very inadequate. And it is this whole cycle of no one regrets exercising. Of course they don’t. You always feel better after you exercise, but sometimes you spend longer thinking about not exercising than actually doing it. [00:10:33][23.0]

Gabby Logan: [00:10:33] And actually doing it in the first place, yeah. [00:10:35][1.3]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:10:35] Yeah, for sure. And you know, even small amounts can make a massive difference to people. And I think, certainly I see people in my clinic who haven’t exercised for many years for various reasons, and the thought of them doing hardcore exercise is absolutely terrifying. But just those little steps and they literally can be steps as opposed to going on the bus, going on the lift. It can really make a difference, can’t it? [00:11:00][24.8]

Gabby Logan: [00:11:01] Well, I quote a woman who used to work for me, who was quite overweight. And this is about 5 or 6 years ago, and she saw how much exercise we did as a household, you know, and how active we were. And she started going for walks. She’d never really done anything for a long time. So she started doing these walks and they got longer. Then she started putting a little bit of running into them. In about the space of a year, she was up to doing a half marathon and she lost about four stone and she needed to lose that weight. She was carrying excess weight and this was coming up her mid-forties, which I always remember, you know, I say this as well – if you need to lose weight, you’re best doing it before your perimenopause and menopausal symptoms really kick in because, you know, it’s much harder when those hormones are changing to lose that weight. And she was somebody you know, I talk about the Couch to 5K a lot when we’re on the BBC, and as somebody who’s exercised their whole life, I’ve always kind of in my mind, in the back of my mind thought, how do people do that? Can people do a Couch to 5K? And when I saw this woman doing that, I realised it is possible, you know, anything is possible. When I saw the transformation in her life and that came from literally a 1K walk, you know, built up to a half marathon. And the joy that she got from that and the energy that she got from that was just transformative as a person, you know? And I think it does seem really daunting if you’re listening to this and you don’t do any exercise to hear somebody did a half marathon, sounds impossible. But that 1K walk, you know, to start off with, is not impossible, no matter how slow you do it. And then you’ll build up, you set yourself small goals, not unrealistic goals. That’s the thing with exercise, you know, don’t go in thinking I’m going to do an Ironman, or I’m going to swim the Channel. Yeah, it’s just those little steps, moving in the right direction every day. Because then what starts to happen is you start thinking more about your food as well, because you start looking at your body in a different way. And it’s such a holistic thing because you think, well, why would I want to put that rubbish into myself? Because I’m now somebody… It’s reframing the way you speak as well, isn’t it? Yeah, I’m an athlete. I’m a sports person. And talking about yourself, not in a way that you detach yourself from that ideal. And I think it’s so confidence boosting as well to be in your body, you know, to feel kind of empowered by your strength and strength training and resistance, as we know, is really important for women as they hit the midlife as well. [00:13:23][142.0]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:13:23] Absolutely. And I think it’s really important because exercise does different things to different people. And obviously physically, women are obsessed. Lots of us are about how we look and are we overweight and should we lose some weight. And, you know, I’ve got friends who exercise purely so that they can eat more or even drink more so that they’re not putting on weight. And that’s their choice. Fine. But actually, it’s the mental health side of it, I think is underestimated and under spoken about sometimes, that it does have this, like you’ve already said, the endorphins that are released, and it can really help in so many ways while you’re exercising, of course, But it’s a longer term effect as well. And many people know I do yoga, I do Ashtanga yoga regularly, and I know if I don’t do it, I start to wobble mentally. I find things very overwhelming. I find things a bit catastrophic. I don’t sleep as well. I’m just a bit more jittery. So that’s not even about what my muscles are looking like. It’s my, you know, mentally. And I’ve managed to persuade one of my friends, who’s a really good friend, and when I first did Ashtanga yoga, I went to my first class 21 years ago, I just had, no nearly 21 years, I just had my first daughter and it was the only class I could go to in the gym that my husband was home early enough for me to go and look after the baby. And we went together and we were just like blown away seeing all these people do all these weird and wonderful contortions. And I’ve carried on with it. And Amanda hasn’t for one reason. So I said to her, I want you to come meet James Critchlow, my yoga teacher. He’s the most amazingly calm, wonderful person. And I want you to come and do a class. And she felt really inadequate, the first class, because she was watching what I was doing. And then she was. But she’s practiced at home. She’s been coming back. And it’s really incredible just when you feel like you’re giving something to somebody you know in the way of sharing your pleasure for an exercise, I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but I’d much prefer to watch her so a bit of yoga and us do this empowering thing together rather than going out for a coffee with her or something. [00:15:24][120.5]

Gabby Logan: [00:15:24] Yeah, yeah, exactly. I’ve got a friend who, I’m at the moment training for a very big cycle challenge and erm cycling to Paris and so doing a lot of miles on the bike. And one of my friends who, you know, we’re friends but we kind of like meet up every now and again, you know, for dinner and things. And, and we’ve become cycling buddies, you know, we cycle together and it’s so lovely. We just, like she said, we go out on the bike for three hours and you just chat loads and then say see you later and you feel amazing afterwards. And I’ve got another group of women who I go cold water swimming with at a lake nearby, you know, and the same thing. We’ll go for our swim, we have a cup of coffee afterwards and I feel amazing and I feel more and more that kind of that active friendships, if you like. And I seem to be kind of nurturing. I’ve got a group of buddies that I try and play a round of golf with once a month, you know. So god, you can get some real chat done on the golf course, you know, and, and that was kind of part of my midlife MOT when I realised I was going to have an empty nest fairly soon, I thought I’d better start picking up some of the hobbies that I used to do ten years ago because I’ve been juggling kids and career and marriage and not really put enough time into those fun things for me. So I’m really finding that as a massive positive from my midlife experience. [00:16:32][67.8]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:16:33] I think it’s so important. There’s a local GP Hussain who’s doing some work in our wellbeing centre who’s, he’s incredible actually. So he’s… Does ultramarathons, he’s incredibly fit, incredibly lean as well. But he used to be 100kg in weight and a few years ago he said to some of the partners at work, I’m going to take up running. And they went, Haha, yeah, right. And honestly, he is incredible and his motivation, he gets people out, but he gets people out from his GP practice. He’s really… and this power of seeing people together and it’s really important. And you’re right, I hate sitting down and having a coffee talking about what kind of nail varnish or what holiday I’m going on. I’m just not very social. But somehow when you’re walking across a field with a friend and it’s something about, you must do it with your children sometimes, if you’re in a car or you’re both looking ahead, you have conversations that you wouldn’t have when you’ve got eye contact. And so all sorts of friends tell me all sorts of things when they’re walking, which they wouldn’t do otherwise, and you feel closer, but you’re also getting outside, your heart rate’s going. You know, it’s a good thing to do. And I think we need to… I think Covid in some ways, lockdown, we got more outdoor space, but we’re slipping back a bit. [00:17:44][71.7]

Gabby Logan: [00:17:46] Yeah, you know, you’re right. I mean, it’s understandable because life gets busy again, doesn’t it? And but I think you have to carve out those times, especially, you know, most people when they’re heading to the midlife, that some of those kind of responsibilities from the younger people around us, you know, are getting less. I mean, we might have to get more responsible with older people in our lives, but we’ve got a little bit of time. And I think it’s making sure that we do, you know, kind of carve it out out, you know and just go, hang on, we can do this, then and you know, I kind of look at my week and book in when I’ve got those things and make sure that, you know, I’ve made 3 or 4 connections like that in the week, which as you say, it’s not just the physical, it’s the mental health where I think really, really benefit. [00:18:27][40.6]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:18:27] It’s very important. And when we think about hormones, obviously it’s something you’ve already said that we should be looking at, doing more resistance training, we should be looking, and it’s really looking at our bones and our muscles, isn’t it Gabby? Because, you know, we have this thing called sarcopenia, which is where our muscle mass reduces as we age. But also osteoporosis is really common. It affects 1 in 2 women over the age of 50. And osteoporosis is where our bones thin, our bones are very dynamic, as you know, we’ve got cells building our bone, cells breaking down. And the balance of those change when our hormones reduce and also when we age. So there’s lots of reasons why people have osteoporosis, but we know it’s far more common after the menopause when hormone levels are low and osteoporosis often doesn’t cause symptoms. Lots of people have osteoporosis, but it’s when they have a fragility fracture, like a low impact fracture. And that can be a real slippery slope, actually, because it’s often not one fracture. It can be multiple, especially at the spine and it’s harder to treat. And we know that hormones can reduce osteoporosis, really good evidence that that’s happening. And so often it’s a combination of hormones and exercise to help our future health, but also help our symptoms and our mental health and everything as well. And I think there’s been a lot of shift almost in the menopause talk, which is great. A lot more people are talking about HRT, but as you might know, I’m getting a lot of pushback about HRT saying, Oh, all you do is talk about HRT. But actually HRT will enable a lot of women to exercise more efficiently, a lot of people will feel more motivated, they’ll sleep better, they’ll have less muscle and joint pain. So of course they’ll be able to exercise better. But there’s no point taking HRT and never doing any exercise. And I think we need to sort of look at it in a grown-up way. I’ve spoken to some patients who said, My doctor says I can’t have HRT until I start to exercise, until I’ve lost… I saw a lady the other day and she’d waited two years to go to an NHS menopause clinic. She was morbidly obese. She looked like her BMI was about 40 or 50. And she said, I’ve been given the lowest dose of an HRT patch and been told I can only have it for six months and then I have to lose weight and they won’t see me again until I’ve lost weight. And she was at a conference I was at and she was getting very tearful. And, you know, that is barbaric in my mind, that as a healthcare professional, we should help in a very holistic way. And it’s very likely that when she has a proper dose of HRT, making sure that her hormones are in a physiological range, she’ll have far more energy, she’ll have less metabolic changes going on in her body. She’ll be more likely losing weight and then more likely exercise and then have less sugar cravings and eat better. So it’s all together. So I don’t think we should just be looking at exercise in isolation or looking at what we eat in isolation. You’ve already said when you exercise, you want to put better things in your body, but also when you’ve got your hormones rebalanced, often it’s the final piece of that jigsaw for many people. [00:21:31][183.9]

Gabby Logan: [00:21:32] Mm, yeah, definitely. And I’d always been an exerciser, and I’d always been somebody who wanted to eat well and try and get the best nutrition. And that didn’t change when I started to experience perimenopausal symptoms. And my symptoms kind of made me feel a bit like, oh, what’s the point? Because I just don’t feel like I’m getting something out of it, you know? So I felt like I was going through the motions a bit actually for a while, with exercise. I was doing it, but I wasn’t feeling as good about myself, you know, and I wasn’t feeling the same kind of buzz from it in lots of ways. But that was just a general, probably a general kind of buzzkill that was going on around me. And I think that I definitely, with lots of other things I noticed when I first started on HRT, but I definitely felt that renewed kind of vigour towards exercise and feeling that actually I could get stronger, you know, I hadn’t plateaued. You know, I could, I didn’t have to kind of accept that my muscles weren’t going to still be defined and strong and I could still bench press and do the things I’d done before and squat with weights and things like that. So I think the HRT certainly when it came to exercise, just gave me a really good boost. You know, it wasn’t the prime motivator for me. There were other things that were more, I suppose, pressing, that I was hoping HRT would help with. [00:22:46][73.7]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:22:47] Yeah, and I’m doing a big presentation soon in Australia actually about mental health and hormones. And I was going down this rabbit hole at the weekend looking at all sorts of really interesting papers, but looking at the role of oestrogen and testosterone actually on our brains as working as neurotransmitters, a chemical that helped send messages to other cells in our brain, but also how they have a very positive impact on hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which is our reward hormone. And if we have low levels of oestrogen, then you have lower levels of dopamine and even noradrenaline, which helps our focus and it helps our clarity of mind. It also helps with our sleep. If we have less of our female hormones, we’re going to have less of those hormones. So that sort of endorphin rush that you get when you exercise is not going to be as high without hormones. And I think for so long we’ve forgotten that hormones in our brain and neurotransmitters in our brain affect our whole body. They affect the way we breathe, the way our heart beats, the way our muscles function and our sensations and our emotions as well. They’re all connected. And we’ve also forgotten that our ovaries, when they produce hormones, they go into our brain, but also our brain produces oestrogen as well, and that reduces as we get older. So we’re sort of denying ourselves something that has so many effects in our bodies. And for so long, women have thought, well, I’ll just battle through and if I do this exercise or if I eat this food or if I take this supplement, then I’ll be okay. And I don’t want to have HRT. And for me, it’s so sad that it’s still the majority of women who are menopausal are not accessing HRT because of this unfounded fear about breast cancer risk. So much needs to change. [00:24:32][104.7]

Gabby Logan: [00:24:32] Yeah, and it’s interesting. Even my own mum, she kind of has this, I don’t know why women are going on about menopause now. And, you know, it’s not an illness and all this kind of thing. And I said, yeah but there’s a lot of women who, you know, you might not have felt you were affected. You know, she doesn’t seem to think that she, although I would say I look back at that period of her life and there were some strange behaviours. And I remember her once she wont mind me saying this, she was, it was a story within the family, because she was wearing white trousers and she had this enormous flood wearing white trousers when she thought her periods were slowing down. So she did have some really, you know, physical manifestations. But also, you know, she now has also been told she’s prone to having osteoporosis because she’s had a couple of fractures in the last year or so. And so I think there is even though she can see the positive conversations that I’m having as her daughter, I do think there are certain kind of people in another generation. Maybe it’s because they missed out. I don’t know. [00:25:32][59.6]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:25:33] Well, yes, I mean, I think there’s a couple of things, no-one’s too old to start HRT, actually. And even low doses can be very beneficial for the bones. And we know that HRT is licensed as a treatment for osteoporosis. So the oldest person we’ve started on HRT in the clinic was 90. For her 90th birthday she bought herself an appointment. So that’s really important. But the other thing actually for me as a physician, it’s not all about symptoms. And we know, for example, we treat people with raised blood pressure to reduce their risk of a heart attack. Most people with raised blood pressure don’t have any symptoms. But we monitor. We look at the levels. We give tablets, medication to reduce blood pressure, to reduce risk. Now, even if you just look at heart disease risk in women, giving HRT reduces the risk of a heart attack far more than reducing blood pressure. And so we need to think, well, why are we not modifying someone’s future risk? Even if we just look at heart disease, which is very common. More women die from heart disease than anything else, you know. And also more people die from heart disease than all cancers put together. Yet, everyone’s worried about cancer more than heart disease. But also osteoporosis. I’ve already said 1 in 2 women. We have a treatment that reduces the risk. So even if someone had no symptoms whatsoever, why are we not taking a disease modifying drug? Or if we don’t want to, we should be knowing that there are benefits because my mother takes HRT. She’s very open about it. She’s not so open about her age, but she’s getting on a bit. But she’s got lots of friends in their late 70s, 80s who have dementia, who have osteoporosis, who are really not very mobile at all, and none of them have taken HRT. And yes, she’s just a small minority with her friends. But when I was a GP, when looking after people in nursing homes, residential homes, care homes, people with really reduced mobility, mental health disorders, dementia, these women were not taking HRT and they also weren’t using vaginal hormones. So their recurrent urinary tract infections were really, really high and common. And so we need to be looking at our future health as well. And obviously, you know, one of the reasons I exercise is I want to keep my muscles, especially my arms. I’ve got this fixation about not being able to get out of the bath when I’m older, so I just don’t want my husband to be pulling me out of the bath. If I’m using a Zimmer frame, I want to be strong because I see so many people who have very weak arms when they’re older and this like I say, this sarcopenia that occurs and then they’re just dependent on others. [00:28:04][151.2]

Gabby Logan: [00:28:05] Well, it’s also, it’s the whole core, you know. I do lots of different kinds of training, but I do a lot of Pilates and that whole trunk area here. I remember reading a few years ago, you know, the visible signs of your body ageing is having a very weak core and trunk because obviously people start to stoop and then they don’t walk very well and then they’re putting pressure on their hips in a different way and their joints. And so that was, you know, I always enjoyed doing those things, but that was a real kind of motivator to keep going in that area because back mobility is a sign of ageing, or lack of back mobility. [00:28:36][31.7]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:28:39] And that core strength is so important. I see a lot of patients who are runners and they’ve run really well and externally they look really fit, but internally they haven’t got that core strength and it’s really important. So you’re absolutely right, Gabby. It’s looking at the right exercise for you, but also looking at what it’s doing to your body and how it’s investing in your future health. [00:28:57][18.7]

Gabby Logan: [00:28:58] It’s future proofing, isn’t it? As you said before, it’s looking at kind of, you know, I’m exercising today because I love it, but I’m also thinking, you know, like you just said, when I’m 80, you know, I’ve got a very inspiring mother in law. She’s 92 this year and she still walks her dog for 2 to 3 miles a day, when she came down here to stay with us a few years ago, and my daughter’s a horse rider, she got on the back of a horse when she was about 89 and took it round the manège. You know, she’s a former horserider, she’s not like, it wasn’t the first time. And her activity, you know, her active lifestyle is really inspiring because I know that, you know, if you don’t do it, you lose it, you know. You lose it. She’s a prime example of that. So I kind of feel that I’ve got these these older women. My mum is also very active, but she’s more kind of early 70s, so she’s a spring chicken compared to my mother in law. But I do think it’s, you know, it’s about the future that I’m looking after now. [00:29:51][53.1]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:29:52] Absolutely. So really great and very I’m very, very flattered that you’ve shared your time today because I know you’re super busy. Before I let you go and say goodbye, I would just like three take home tips that I always ask my podcast guests. So three reasons and we’ve come across them already, but three reasons why we should all be exercising regardless of our age. [00:30:11][18.9]

Gabby Logan: [00:30:12] Well, the last one that I just said there, I think reason number one for me is because I want to be playing tennis with my grandchildren. You know, I want to, you know, feel I can hopefully if I get some one day, but I want to be active in my 80s, I want to be playing golf and going for long walks and getting myself out of a chair without it being a kind of a national incident. I want to feel empowered in my body and, listen I can’t guarantee that, but I can do the things now that are going to help me. So that’s number one. It’s the future. Another reason for exercising now is certainly my mental health. You know, I, I look back through my life and I’m very lucky that I found exercise as a young girl. You know, I did sport to quite a high level. I’ve never really stopped. And I because I think the time when I could have stopped in my kind of early 20s when there wasn’t really a reason to exercise per se, I realised subliminally, somehow, that this was good for me mentally. I knew that going out for a run, as I did then, was about clearing my brain, you know, getting myself kind of back on track if I’d had a wobbly day or starting the day well. And I think that feeling grew stronger and stronger through my life. And so for my mental health, that is vital. So, you know, the future, mental health. And finally, you kind of alluded to it actually with your friends, but I do eat very well. But occasionally, if I want to fall off and have a, you know, a massive Sunday roast or, you know, I do something kind of, you know, a little bit that’s not on the kind of, let’s say, 80/20. I always love that, my son was a, he’s a professional rugby player and I remember listening to a talk he was given in lockdown about try and stick to the good things 80% of the time and maybe it’s more 90/10 as you get older. But you know, if you are going to fall off, have a glass of wine or a gin and tonic at the weekends, whatever, you know, don’t feel bad about it. I don’t want to feel like it’s guilt, you know, I want to know…it’s a balance. And the exercise I’m doing will hopefully help to negate some of the toxins I might occasionally put inside me. [00:32:01][109.4]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:32:01] Ah, great advice, really practical as well. So thanks ever so much today Gabby. It’s been great. [00:32:06][5.1]

Gabby Logan: [00:32:07] It’s been a pleasure. Thank you, Louise, for everything you do. And I think, you know, the educational kind of work that you do is so vital for women who have fears, nerves, apprehensions, or they’re reading headlines that scare them, you know, about taking that step towards rebalancing their hormones. So, you know, keep doing what you do. [00:32:24][16.6]

Dr Louise Newson: [00:32:24] Oh, thank you. You can find out more about Newson Health Group by visiting and you can download the free balance app on the App Store or Google Play. [00:32:24][0.0]


Gabby Logan: the power of exercising in midlife

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