All about menopause

Are you struggling with issues relating to menopause? Do you feel that things are becoming out of your control and what you have done up until now has stopped working for you?

I am writing this to tell you that you can take control now and it is never too late to start. But first things first, let’s discuss a little bit about menopause and the stages of menopause.

What is peri menopause? The first sign of peri menopause is usually irregular menstrual cycles but you can experience other symptoms such as mood changes, trouble concentrating, night sweats and hot flashes, to name a few. Peri menopause can last anything from 4 to 8 years and usually starts around the age of 47 but can start as early as 39. It can be a really hard time and you may not know what or why you are feeling different to how you once felt but you just know something isn’t right. What is menopause? Menopause is when you are going 12 consecutive months without a period and post menopause is the period after 12 consecutive months without a period. Basically you stop having periods altogether.

You may not even realise your last period was in fact the last one until it happens. Menopause usually falls between the ages of 48-52 but can happen earlier. Symptoms of the menopause can be both physical and psychological and can become more intense during the menopause itself. Some of the symptoms of menopause are joint pain, joint stiffness, hot flashes, trouble sleeping, night sweats, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, depression, trouble concentrating and brain fog.

Every woman is different and some may unfortunately be more effected by the symptoms of menopause. All women however can take action and make changes to help them cope better during this time. It is possible to even very possible feel empowered during this time.

If you are struggling during this time I would urge you to address, lifestyle, exercise and nutrition. Looking at these lifestyle changes can not only help to minimise your symptoms but also help future proof your body for the future. This moves me nicely on to the next part that I wish to discuss and that is the benefits of strength training for women over 40 and why you should really consider making strength training a priority for you and your future body.

I set out below some of the main benefits of strength training. Muscle and bone health. Losing muscle is a natural part of ageing. This is referred to as sarcopenia. Sedentary women start to lose muscle mass from the age of 30 at the rate of 3-8 % per decade. This speeds up during menopause. Lifting weights can help preserve muscle mass and it is even possible to gain muscle during this time with the right strength training program (1).

Another part of ageing is bone loss. This is referred to as Osteopenia. Bone loss can lead to osteoporosis. According to AgeUK about 1 in 2 women over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. From their mid 40s women start to loose bone mass. This is measured at around 0.4% each year. Again, this also speeds up during menopause. It is now thought that it is possible to increase bone density at this stage is life which is amazing news (2). ALL IS NOT LOST! Help you to feel happier and more confident Exercise is proven to help improve mood and lifting weights can be very empowering and also a lot of fun. I find exercise plays a massive part in my mental well-being. Improve how your body and brain function and improve your quality of life

Do you want to be active, recover well if you have an accident etc? Exercise can help your body perform and move better. Exercise can also help you to move pain free. Help with weight management and/or weight loss. As we age we can become more sedentary which can help to contribute to weight gain. Lifting weights and gaining muscle can help you lose weight. (Also see below in relation to menopause and weight gain.) AND THE BIG ONE………….. Strength training can help manage the symptoms of the menopause!!!! Please remember that menopause can cause many changes in your body and you may need more time to recover from exercise than you used to.

Adaption is therefore extremely important during this time and exercise should always be tailored to your specific needs and how you are feeing at the time. Does the menopause cause weight gain? I would now like to touch on menopause and weight gain. Everyone talks about the menopause weight gain or menopause belly but is it true we gain weight during the menopause? Menopause and the drop in hormones has been linked to weight gain however ageing alone may naturally cause weight gain. This is due to a number of factors such a moving less and perhaps a loss of muscle mass.

The question is whether this is due to the menopause alone? The drop in estrogen which happens during menopause may affect how body fat is distributed rather than having more body total fat and this is why women may appear to carry more weight around their mid section at this time (3). It is advised to address your diet at this time and eat more protein, a wide selection of fruit and vegetables, reduce alcohol and drink more water.

A little about me I am a level 4 Personal Trainer, Pre and Post natal coach and currently studying to be a Women’s Health Coaching Specialist. I am confident that I can help you achieve confidence, strength and health during menopause. I am busy mum and had a career previous to becoming a Personal Trainer in 2018 but love being a personal trainer and have discovered I especially enjoy helping women to feel empowered. I haven’t been through menopause myself YET.

I do however believe that I may be beginning to experience some of the symptoms of peri menopause. This has led me to become passionate about helping other women manage their symptoms and feel their best at whatever stage in the menopausal journey they may be. I believe I am fair to say that a lot of coaches are not equipped with the knowledge in relation to menopause and how this can affect training. I want you to know that I am the coach that takes these symptoms seriously and understands how you are feeling. I want you to know that you are in safe hands when you trust me to look after you. Finally If you are reading this and thinking its too late for me, let me reassure you that it is never too late to start. If you are wondering how and where to start, drop me a message and I would delighted to help. I offer fitness classes, one to one personal training and nutrition advice.

References (1) Resistance Exercise to Prevent and Manage Sarcopenia and DynapeniaTimothy D. Law, DO, MBA,1,2,3 Leatha A. Clark, DPT, MS,1,2 and Brian C. Clark, PhD*,1,3,4 (2) Effects of dynamic resistance exercise on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: a systematic review and meta-analysis with special emphasis on exercise parameters M Shojaa 1 , S von Stengel 1 , M Kohl 2 , D Schoene 1 , W Kemmler 3 (3) Understanding weight gain at menopause S R Davis 1 , C Castelo-Branco, P Chedraui, M A Lumsden, R E Nappi, D Shah, P Villaseca; Writing Group of the International Menopause Society for World Menopause Day