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Exercise for Every Stage: Fitness Tips for Perimenopausal and Menopausal Women

It is never too late to start a new fitness regime. Never. Whether you are starting from square one with your fitness or whether fitness has always been part of your routine, now is the time to start.

The past year has posed significant challenges to my health. My experience with perimenopause symptoms has been particularly intense. From July 2023 to February 2024, I struggled to get adequate sleep, and the frequency of my hot flashes disrupted my daily life, occurring 20-40 times a day, predominantly at night. Consequently, my mood plummeted, and I noticed a decline in my fitness levels. Despite my efforts to stay active through gentle walking and yoga, my health faced considerable strain. Being accustomed to maintaining a high level of fitness, having taught fitness and yoga classes since the age of 20, this was an entirely new ordeal for me. Dealing with consecutive injuries only compounded my challenges, making recovery even more arduous. The incident of falling down the stairs at 2 am during a hot flash felt like the ultimate test. Life often presents us with unexpected lessons to navigate.

Truthfully, these changes in my mental health and my physical strength felt at times like I couldn't find a way out. I knew that small steps to improved health was the way to go. Even doing 10 push ups seemed too much.

I am determined, I always have been. So I began. Small steps. I used CBT tips to help me sleep, looked carefully at my nutrition, stopped drinking alcohol and increased my walking and yoga for fitness. It did feel like two steps forward and one step back, but I knew I was moving in the right direction.

I began to focus again on my fitness. One step at a time, one push up at a time. Frustrated, but determined.

I am regaining my physical strength. Slowly but surely. Recovery time is longer. My progress is slower. But I am making progress, and I will celebrate it!

Every symptom of perimenopause and menopause can be improved by exercise. Seriously.

Here are some of the perimenopause and menopause symptoms that can be improved with exercise!

1. Hot flashes and night sweats: Regular exercise can help regulate body temperature and reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats.

2. Mood swings and irritability: Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, helping to alleviate mood swings, irritability, and symptoms of depression.

3. Weight gain and metabolism changes: Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight by burning calories, boosting metabolism, and preserving lean muscle mass, which can help mitigate weight gain commonly experienced during perimenopause.

4. Fatigue and low energy levels: Regular physical activity increases energy levels, improves stamina, and reduces feelings of fatigue, helping women feel more energized and motivated throughout the day.

5. Insomnia and sleep disturbances: Exercise promotes better sleep quality by reducing stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation, and regulating sleep-wake cycles, leading to improved sleep patterns and fewer disruptions.

6. Bone density loss and osteoporosis risk: Weight-bearing exercises and resistance training help strengthen bones, increase bone density, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures associated with declining estrogen levels.

7. Joint pain and stiffness: Exercise improves joint flexibility, mobility, and strength, reducing joint pain, stiffness, and discomfort often experienced during perimenopause.

8. Brain fog and cognitive changes: Physical activity enhances cognitive function, memory, and mental clarity by increasing blood flow to the brain and promoting neuroplasticity, helping to combat brain fog and cognitive changes.

9. Cardiovascular health concerns: Exercise improves heart health, lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol levels, and enhances cardiovascular fitness, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke associated with hormonal changes during perimenopause.

10. Stress and anxiety: Exercise acts as a natural stress reliever, releasing tension, reducing cortisol levels, and promoting relaxation, which can help alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety commonly experienced during perimenopause.

How to get started with fitness, even if you are in the midst of perimenopause symptoms that are impacting your health:

Just start. Where you are.

Incorporating a variety of exercises into your routine, including cardiovascular workouts, strength training, flexibility exercises, and mind-body practices, can help address these symptoms and promote overall health and well-being during perimenopause. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.

As your body undergoes hormonal changes during this transition, maintaining an active lifestyle becomes crucial for supporting bone health, managing weight, and improving mood. In this article, we'll explore a variety of exercises suitable for every stage of menopause, including walking, yoga, mindfulness, and short workouts that can be squeezed into even the busiest of days.

1. Walking: A Foundation for Fitness

Walking is one of the simplest yet most effective forms of exercise for perimenopausal and menopausal women. It's low-impact, accessible to all fitness levels, and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week to reap the benefits for bone health, cardiovascular fitness, and mental well-being. Break down your walking to 5-10 minutes at a time, whenever you can fit it in!

2. Yoga for Flexibility and Strength

Yoga is an excellent choice for perimenopausal and menopausal women as it not only improves flexibility and strength but also promotes relaxation and stress relief. Focus on poses that target areas of concern such as hip openers for joint flexibility and balance poses for stability. Incorporating mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can further enhance the benefits of your yoga practice. I offer in person yoga classes every week in the Calgary area, check out my website for details.

3. Mindfulness: Exercise for the Mind and Body

Mindfulness practices offer gentle movements combined with focused breathing and meditation, promoting relaxation and stress reduction. These exercises can be particularly beneficial for managing mood swings, anxiety, and sleep disturbances commonly experienced during perimenopause and menopause. Dedicate a few minutes each day to mindfulness exercises to cultivate a sense of calm and balance amidst the hormonal changes. Check out the free resources on my website for ideas.

4. Short Workouts for Busy Days

For women with packed schedules, fitting in longer exercise sessions can be challenging. However, short bursts of physical activity throughout the day can be just as effective. Try incorporating quick workouts such as squats, pushups, bodyweight exercises, or circuit training into your routine. These workouts can be done in as little as 10-15 minutes and still provide significant benefits for cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and metabolism.

Keeping active is crucial for enhancing your health and vitality during perimenopause and menopause. Mix up your routine with activities like walking, yoga, mindfulness, and quick workouts to boost bone strength, control weight, and uplift your mood throughout this transformative period. Tune in to your body's cues, pick activities you love, and focus on staying consistent rather than pushing too hard. Cheers to embracing fitness, resilience, and empowerment at every step of the menopause journey!

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