Moving more in midlife

Take control of your own body, educate yourself on what will work for you, feel empowered, embrace life and then get going!

Menopause is an inevitable life stage for all us women and with more visibility and understanding on this topic, we’re increasingly looking at alternative ways to manage the symptoms of menopause, including the use of exercise and the benefits that being active can bring. 

But what happens if you hate exercise, or you like the idea of exercise but have no idea where to start, or you just don’t feel confident enough?  Choosing trainers with style or substance, wondering which leggings are designed with compassion over compression, or finding a sports bra that supports a buxom bosom – navigating the world of exercise is a tricky sport, and that’s just the kit!

Any woman who is in the menopause zone (40+) will see huge benefits from being active.  It’s been proven that exercise helps manage menopausal symptoms, it can certainly help with weight management and there is irrefutable evidence to back up claims that exercise reduces the rates of all chronic disease.  The facts are there – exercise is something that we all need to be doing, but unless you’re super physically confident and capable it’s not always clear where to begin.

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The fitness industry certainly caters well for the 20-year-old lean Instagrammer who likes a hard workout, but there’s actually very little out there for women in their 40s who still want to enjoy a good workout and who want to feel awesome.  Simply put, the current industry is frustrating. It really shouldn’t be so hard to find classes, events and spaces for women who want to move more during midlife. 

Before you give up on the idea of a trip to the yoga studio and start packing away your crazy print lycra, why not take things into our own hands?  Take control of your own body, educate yourself on what will work for you, feel empowered, embrace life and then, well, get going!

Here are six top tips that will get you moving through menopausal midlife: 

Wear pants not pads

Pelvic health is a non-negotiable in 40+ women. We could be living just as long post-menopause as we have before it and if your pelvic floor is giving you gyp in your 40s, it’s likely to get much worse after menopause.  Although all exercise is good, you must get your pelvic health sorted first.  Go and see a women’s health physio – your GP can refer you.

Motion is lotion

Fear of failure, doing things incorrectly or a lack of confidence can paralyse some into total inaction.  If this is you, just start off with an exercise that doesn’t fill you with dread – walking is a fabulous way to get moving. Make it part of your routine and aim to move every day for at least 30 to 60 minutes.

Be breathless - but chatty

At least two to three times a week you should do something that raises your heart rate and breathing rate enough for you to notice! These workouts do not need to be long – 20 to 30 minutes max – and they certainly shouldn’t hurt a lot but it’s a great way to boost your fitness levels.  Walking up a hill with purpose is a great way to start on this.

Slow and steady wins the race

Exercise should help with your energy levels, sleep, anxiety and immunity. It should not, however, be depleting you or making life harder to cope with. There are a significant number of women who become addicted to exercise and this comes with a whole host of issues, so it’s something important to consider and to address. 

If you think you’re in danger of overdoing it, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself and start to do a little less. If the routine is hard to break, replace some of your workouts with restorative and fun sessions instead.

Keep it interesting

Exercise should never be boring! It’s your money and your time so spend it wisely.  Mix it up and try something new just for fun.  If you’re stuck in a rut it’s very unlikely that your body will be getting any fitter or stronger.  To build resilience we need to stimulate our bodies in different ways, and variety is the key to this.

Look out for fun classes such as Ballet Barre , Zumba and Clubbercise or rope your mates into going so you make it much more sociable and therefore more fun!

‘No pain no gain’ is total nonsense!

Most of us are past the stage of being motivated by someone screaming at us with pumping techno music piercing our ears, but the old adage of ‘no pain no gain’ still does the rounds in many a workout space.  However, it just doesn’t work, end of.  Exercise needs to stimulate our bones, muscles, brains and hearts to elicit a change. It does not need to leave us in a sweaty heap on the floor, unable to move.  Yes, we need to push it a bit, but not too much and not for too long.

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There you go – a quick and easy guide to get yourself motivated and moving. There are always a gazillion reasons not to exercise - lack of time and energy are the classic barriers to incorporating exercise into your life.

Start challenging these barriers and you’re much more likely to get active and, once you do, you’ll soon reap all the fabulous benefits of moving more in midlife.