Imagine if a new drug came on the market offering increased mental alertness, more energy and vitality, the ability to perform daily tasks without getting breathless or tired, more flexibility, faster reaction times, increased immunity and stronger bones. The shops would be inundated!
Well, the good news is, this ‘drug’ already exists. It’s called ‘exercise’ or physical activity and it can be yours for little or no cost. Perhaps the only drawback is that, unlike a magic pill, you have to put in some time and effort to achieve the benefits, but this is a small price to pay for such huge rewards.
Before you say you’re too old to start an exercise regime, remember that it’s even more important to be positive about exercise now than when you were younger. Anything that gets you moving will help improve your energy levels, symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia, as well as boost your confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing.
The benefits of exercise for menopausal symptoms cannot be overstated. Increased mental alertness, more energy and vitality, the ability to perform daily tasks without getting breathless or tired, greater flexibility, faster reaction times, increased immunity and stronger bones are just some of them. Exercise is also a great stress buster. Achieving these benefits requires time and effort, but this is a small price to pay for such huge rewards.
It’s even more important to be positive about exercise now than when you were younger. Anything that gets you moving will help improve your energy levels and reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia, as well as boost your confidence, self- esteem, and well-being.
Exercise is particularly important at the time of menopause, as our metabolism (the rate at which the body burns calories) tends to slow down as we get older. When you were young, you could probably eat what you liked without gaining much weight, but now you may only have to look at a doughnut to pile on the pounds, especially around the middle. Exercise helps in several ways. First, you burn more calories while you’re doing it, and it can also increase your metabolic rate for up to twenty-four hours afterwards. Second, regular exercise, particularly strength or resistance training (which includes activities like Pilates, yoga, swimming, and cycling, as well as weight training), builds muscle. The greater your muscle mass, the higher your metabolic rate, and the more calories you burn even when you’re not exercising.
Making exercise part of our everyday lifestyle helps to protect us from heart disease and dementia as well as building new bone. Not exercising makes us feel old before our time.
If you haven’t enjoyed exercising in the past, you’re probably already groaning, but I promise you will reap enormous benefits from getting up and moving. Many women who started exercise for the first time as part of my program have come to absolutely love it. Exercise also improves your circulation, so your skin will look better, and you’ll feel radiant. Don’t worry, you’re not expected to run a marathon (unless you want to, of course).
You’re not competing with anyone but yourself. The aim is to improve your level of fitness gradually over several months.
The first rule of exercise is to choose activities you enjoy. If you already like walking, this is a great way to start. If you can’t think of any form of exercise that appeals to you, think back to activities you enjoyed when you were younger.
You may prefer to exercise with other people. This might mean joining an exercise or dance class or going for a jog with a friend. If you prefer (or are required) to stay at home, select a good home exercise session on YouTube, or simply dance or sing to your favourite music. Whatever it takes and whatever you fancy, you have already jumped the most difficult hurdle — you’ve taken the first step in creating an exercise programme.
Once you start, it’s a good idea to vary the type of exercise you do on different days of the week to target different parts of your body and help stave off boredom. Good options include running, power walking, cycling, swimming, using the cardio machines at the gym, tennis, Zumba, Pilates, dancing, jumping rope, and aerobics.
You can also incorporate exercise into your daily life. Use the stairs instead of the lift. Walk or ride a bike instead of driving or using public transport. Use a Hula Hoop in the evening instead of sitting watching TV. Walk around while you are talking to friends on the phone. If you do your own housework, put real effort into it while playing your favourite music.
Within twelve weeks of starting an exercise regimen, you will feel more energetic, be able to cope more effectively with stress, sleep better, fight off infections more successfully, and generally feel a whole lot better.
During the holidays we can often find it difficult to exercise. Routines are disrupted, you might not be at home or be lucky enough to have guests. It’s especially important to find exercise you can do at home or outside when access to your gym is so variable at the moment. But don’t despair planning is key.
- Go for long walks with family and friends so that they don’t feel neglected.
- Dance around the kitchen while you are preparing food or clearing up.
- Do housework to your favourite music and put some real effort into it.
- Do your yoga stretches before you go to bed
- Walk around while talking to friends on the phone or during the ad breaks on TV.
- Always use the stairs rather than the lift or elevator.
- Leave your car behind so that you walk whenever you can.
- When you have the opportunity to hang out with friends turn up the music and dance. If will make you laugh which is great for your health and burn up calories so that you can consume more of the food you enjoy without expanding your waistline.
Make some time to exercise and you will feel the benefits.
The flip side of exercise is rest and relaxation, which also have huge benefits at this time of life, especially for women with busy or stressful lives
Relaxation is a critical component in my programme. This doesn’t mean chilling out in front of the television watching Netflix but setting aside time for formal relaxation.
It can have huge benefits at this time of life, especially for women with busy or stressful lives. And luckily, the ability to be still, experience gratitude, and appreciate the beauty in our surroundings is Mother Nature’s gift to us. We can all do it, and it costs nothing, but it pays enormous dividends. A daily twenty-minute relaxation session can reduce hot flushes by up to 60 percent.
When we feel stressed and wound up, relaxation may not come easily, or we may feel that we don’t have time for it. But relaxation rests our brain, making it more efficient, as well as giving us an energy boost.
It’s not uncommon to find it difficult to switch off. In my experience, formal relaxation or meditation quiets the mind, but it is an acquired skill. So don’t be too hard on yourself if your mind keeps running in the fast lane when you first attempt to practise formal Relaxation techniques. It’s like building new muscles: it takes time.
You can choose from a whole range of practices and techniques to help you rest and relax. These include yoga, creative visualisation, mindfulness meditation, qi gong, cognitive behaviour therapy, and tai chi.
In addition, there are apps, like Pzizz and Headspace, that can coach you through structured relaxation or meditation sessions or just provide a soothing audio background for relaxation. I have personally used Pzizz for years which has helped me through the most stressful times. The app developed by neuroscientists, can aid relaxation as well as sleep. To download Pzizz for yourself go to https://pzizz.com/buy and use our discount code BESTPZIZZ.
For more information on both these topics you can watch a replay of a Midlife Refuel Club Live Session by joining our Free Midlife Refuel Club.
Are you feeling demotivated?
Have you lost your mojo?
Are you feeling tired and achy or old before your time?
Are you scared because you can't think straight or lose track of what you were saying mid sentence?
Have you put so much weight on and your clothes are tight?