Lost motivation? How to regain your fitness mojo in menopause
- Exercise has a multiple of benefits during and after the menopause
- The lowdown on how much exercise do you should aim for
- How to form an exercise habit – and stick with it
Staying active is crucial during the perimenopause, menopause and beyond.
It helps keep your bones strong, is good for your mental health, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and when combined with a balanced diet, it helps you maintain a healthy weight.
But often menopause symptoms and the general stresses and strains of life mean you may not be exercising as much as you’d like, or may even have stopped altogether.
A poll of nearly 6,000 women for balance founder Dr Louise Newson’s book, the Definitive Guide to Perimenopause and Menopause, found that while three quarters (77%) of women recognised the physical and mental health benefits to exercising, nearly a third admit they exercise less than once a week or not at all.
So why can exercise feel like a hard slog during the menopause, and what can you do if it’s been a while since you’ve pulled on your trainers?
Balance has put together the following tip tips on getting back into exercise so you can reap those all-important benefits.
Why can exercise be a challenge during the menopause
The perimenopause and menopause can account for a host of reasons that make you less likely to exercise on a regular basis. The combination of physical symptoms like aching joints and fatigue with psychological symptoms of low mood and motivation can hinder even the most active of people.
The main barriers to exercise, according to the women who responded to Dr Newson’s survey, were a lack of motivation (51%), followed by a lack of time (42%). And nearly a third were unable to exercise more due to their menopausal symptoms.
Speak to a healthcare professional
If symptoms are affecting your everyday life, speak to a healthcare professional for an individualised conversation about ways to manage symptoms, including HRT.
Many women find that taking HRT makes it easier to exercise as physical symptoms usually improve and their mood and levels of motivation are better.
Think ‘activity’ rather than ‘exercise’
Unless you have been told by a healthcare professional to avoid a certain exercise, all exercise will be beneficial. But if it’s been a while, try and stop thinking about ‘exercise’ and start thinking about ‘activity’ instead.
According to government guidelines, adults aged 19-64 should aim for half an hour of moderate intensity exercise five times a week, or vigorous exercise for 75 minutes a week. In addition, adults should do strength exercise at least two days a week.
But you don’t have to be kitted out in workout gear or shell out for a pricey gym membership to be active: gardening, dancing and walking to the bus stop in the morning all counts towards exercise targets.
Start small – and set achievable exercise goals
If you haven’t exercised for a while, don’t panic. Start with something small, such as some gentle walking, and build from there.
Setting a well-defined goal is important. Use a SMART approach to help make it more concrete. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic (or relevant) and time-based.
This will turn ‘I need to do more exercise’ into ‘I will go for a walk three times a week during my lunch break consistently for the next month’. This way, you will know on a week-by-week basis, how well you did and whether you achieved the goal or not.
Try before you buy
Experiment with a few different activities to find something you enjoy, such as online workouts at home or group exercise activities. Swimming is a great choice if moving can be painful for you as its low impact on your joints. Most importantly, find something you enjoy – you’ll be far more likely to stick to it.
Exercise with friends going through menopause
If you are struggling with motivation, try exercising with a friend. You’ll be more accountable to turning up if you have a friend waiting for you, and it’ll make the activity more sociable and fun.
And while no two menopauses are the same, if you have a friend also going through the menopause, why not turn your next meet up into a spot of exercise so you can so you can support each other.
And don’t forget to download the balance app to find lots more articles and tips on exercise.