We all know the importance of exercise. It helps to keep us fit, healthy and at a stable weight. But did you know that exercise helps to keep our bones strong, as well as toning our muscles? This is especially important for women approaching, during or after the menopause. After a woman goes through the menopause, and reaches her older years, her bones can become less dense. Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies can cause brittle bones in people of all genders and ages. But in post-menopausal women, it’s often due to a reduction in the hormone oestrogen. As women age further, they therefore become more at risk of weakened and brittle bones, a condition called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become more porous as they lose density, and therefore more susceptible to breaks and fractures.
What Happens During the Menopause? During the menopause, levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen fall. As well as causing bones to weaken, this causes hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia which can allreduce energy levels. A drop in oestrogen can also lead to a lower metabolic rate. This means that weight gain after the menopause is common. This in turn leads to less mobility, and feeling less inclined to exercise, which reduces lean muscle mass and bone strength, and increases fat mass. Progesterone, another female sex hormone, also drops. This can result in mood swings, irritability and feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It’s therefore advisable that women in their 50s, 60s and beyond do all they can to protect their bone strength, energy levels and mental wellbeing. And much of this is down to exercise!
Strength Training and the Menopause Eating a healthy diet, making sure you get enough sunlight (which produces bone strengthening vitamin D) and using HRT will help bone strength. But one of the best things we can do to help protect our bones is exercise. The best exercise for menopausal women is strength training. This involves a combination of weight-bearing and resistance exercises. Weight-bearing exercises involve exercising with weights. Resistance exercise involves using your own body weight or a machine to exercise against, such as performing squats and lunges or using a cross trainer. Squatting and lunging whilst holding free weights will make them even more beneficial. A personal trainer who’s used to working with menopausal women will ensure that you carry out each exercise safely and correctly. This is especially important if you’re at risk of bone fractures. Performing a combination of these exercises not only ensures you’re building strength and looking after your bones, it will ensure you work your entire body. And that you don’t get bored of repeating the same exercises, time after time!
How Does Exercise Help Strengthen the Bones? Regular strength training helps us to gain muscle strength. Stronger muscles mean stronger ligaments and tendons. Ligaments attach bones to bones and tendons attach muscles to bones. So the stronger our muscles, the stronger our bones, too. Exercise also helps to improve our coordination and balance, both of which help prevent us from falling and potentially fracturing our bones.
The Importance of a Personal Trainer The benefits of exercise run far deeper than just looking after our bones and muscles. It can also help reduce stress, anxiety and depression, which can also coincide with the menopause. But it’s vital that you get it right. That’s why it’s important to work with a trainer who is qualified and experienced in working with menopausal women. I’ve worked with many and have seen how, along with the right diet, they benefit greatly from strength training. And these benefits aren’t just strength and tone, the improved posture, balance and stability they achieve truly is life changing. I create individual, safe strength training programmes specifically designed to help menopausal women. If you’re interested in working with me to change your life, get in touch today.