’You may hurt your body a bit when you move often, but you’re guaranteed to ruin it when you never do.’
I recently read this great quote, and it sums up why it’s so important to move!
I often have clients asking me what the most important things to concentrate on as we navigate through the menopause years are, and without a doubt, my instant reply is that movement, healthy nutrition, stress management and sleep are the most important aspects to concentrate on.
Perimenopausal symptoms can last on average four years. The symptoms associated with this phase (hot flushes, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, tenderness and dryness to name a few) will gradually ease during menopause and postmenopause. You need to engage with this period in your life and not just sit and wait for it to pass. The more you can educate yourself, the easier the transition will be. Forewarned is forearmed!
Menopause is no easy feat, even on the best of days, so be kind to yourself and do the best you can to look after your physical and mental health. Make your health a priority. You need to take control. Often my clients know something is not right before a doctor’s diagnosis, so get to know your body, so you can monitor any abnormal changes and take appropriate early action. HRT is so readily available now too, with many options to help increase your quality of life, improve symptoms and add other benefits to your heart, brain and bone health. Make sure you discuss this with your GP. Luckily, The Meno Charity has recently sponsored a new, much-needed course for GP surgeries, to give doctors more up-to-date information on menopause, so it’s always worth asking if there is a women’s health specialist you can see.
At mid-life, self-care is no longer optional; it’s mandatory. Listening to a cardiologist recently speaking on heart health made me stop and think that when your heart beats, the first place it pumps blood to is itself. That’s how important it is to make looking after yourself your priority. This is a stage in your life when you need to consider lifestyle options!
I really am a passionate believer that taking part in regular exercise is like having a wonder pill. You don’t need to have gym or Internet access, major equipment, or set a regime that is unrealistic. You just need to make movement part of your day, every day! Put on your trainers and take an intentionally brisk walk. Maybe find a friend who you can be accountable to and share the experience with. Try to get some extra steps in. Ask yourself if you can walk to where you are about to drive to, and if you must drive, park a little bit further away. Take the stairs instead of a lift or escalator. Be mindful of your posture too. Try to keep your chest proud, shoulders back and away from your ears and tuck your tailbone in. If you are sitting at a desk or table for long periods, make sure you get up often to stretch out.
At first, it may be an effort, but after a while, it will become second nature. Try to move for at least 30 minutes a day. You don’t need to work out every minute of the day (this wouldn’t be good for you!), and you don’t need to eat clean every single day or give up everything you enjoy; just start to make a few changes. Got ten minutes in between jobs or kids coming home? Why not knock out a quick blast of movement (choose from my Snax Sheet) and get your blood pumping? I guarantee your body will thank you! As we get older, the importance of doing strength exercises with added weight increases. Start with light weights, which you can usually buy at your local Tesco store. Recent research shows less than an hour of strength training per week can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke anywhere from 40–70%. These cardiovascular benefits were independent of aerobic exercises, such as walking and running!