21st May 2024

Best Exercise For Menopause

Menopause can be a difficult time as you navigate the changes in your body and challenging symptoms. Although you may not always feel like working out if you’re struggling with reduced energy, muscle aches or hot flushes, studies show that certain kinds of exercise can help make a difference with your symptoms and mental health. Keep reading to find out the best exercise for menopause, and how it could help you.

If you’re an exercise beginner, take a look at these tips, or sign up to our Programme which guides you through enjoyable workouts with easy-to-follow videos from our team of fitness experts, starting at a beginner level.

How much exercise should you do?

We recommend doing 10-20 minutes of daily physical activity to reap the physical and mental benefits that come with moving your body. Our Programme takes you through a guided 12-week course, tailored to your level of fitness, in addition to a library with Pilates, yoga, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and resistance workouts. Having shorter, regular workouts will help you turn it into a habit, thus making it more enjoyable to maintain an exercise routine.

But what are the benefits of exercise, and how do they differ during menopause?

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The benefits of exercise during menopause

  • Limits weight gain: Studies have shown that menopause is associated with general weight gain, particularly the accumulation of visceral fat (otherwise known as belly fat) which can continue to occur during and after menopause.1 Regular exercise can help to limit this natural weight gain by reducing fat accumulation and minimising the loss of lean muscle mass.
  • Improve your heart health: Due to lower oestrogen levels, you are put at a higher risk of heart disease after menopause. Certain kinds of exercise may help to reduce this risk, so keep reading to find out the best exercise for menopause-related heart health.
  • Boosts mood and reduces anxiety: Menopause can bring with it major mood changes, including symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research shows, however, that physical exercise alleviates these symptoms and should be included in primary healthcare programmes for postmenopausal women.2
  • Improves sleep: Sleep is hugely affected during the menopause, both with difficulties dozing off, but also having a hard time staying asleep due to hot flashes and hormonal changes.3 Regular daily exercise helps to tire you out in time for bed, and even helps you stay asleep at night.
  • Supports bone health: Menopause can affect the strength and overall health of your bones, leaving you more susceptible to osteoporosis. Thankfully, regular physical movement is proven to reduce these risks, and strengthen bone health in postmenopausal women.4

The best exercise for menopause

When it comes to exercising either during or postmenopause, some workouts are more beneficial than others. As this transition in life comes with its own set of health implications, some exercises are targeted towards reducing your risk of developing certain diseases, and can also help to alleviate some negative symptoms like mood and sleep difficulties.

It’s always best to try different types of exercise, regularly doing a range of different physical activities. Not only will this keep up your interest by mixing up your movement, but it will bring with it more benefits than just sticking to one. This is why our Programme houses hundreds of different exercise tutorials and video classes of various different forms. 

Here are some of the best exercises for menopause for you to try, either at a gym or in your own home with the help of our fitness experts on the Programme:

HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training, or ‘HIIT’, is a form of movement that addresses both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. It involves quick bursts of energy at maximum effort alternated with recovery periods. It’s perfect for busy lifestyles as a HIIT workout can take as little as 10 minutes out of your day, but can burn up to 25-30% more calories than regular cardio.5 It’s particularly beneficial to heart health as it more efficiently pumps blood around the body, and can help to prevent cardiac diseases.6 You can find some low impact chair-based HIIT exercises here, or sign up to The Fast 800 Programme for exclusive guidance and engaging video tutorials to ensure you’re moving correctly.

Resistance

Alongside a gain in fat mass, there is a loss of lean muscle mass that comes with menopause, and can continue to occur even years after. Resistance training is one of the best exercises for menopause, as it builds strength and anaerobic endurance, which helps to improve heart health and maintain lean muscle mass.7

Pilates

Studies have found that doing Pilates three times a week significantly decreases menopause symptoms.8 This load-bearing type of movement is one of the best exercises for menopause as it is low impact but helps to strengthen bones and the core muscles, which are often weakened by menopause. If finding a Pilates studio near you doesn’t sound feasible, try out any of the many guided Pilates classes on our Programme, which you can easily do from the comfort of your own home. 

Yoga

Studies have shown that yoga, specifically, can improve posture and build bone density when done properly, with guidance from experienced trainers.9 Yoga also plays a crucial role in improving bone health and reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis or suffering fractures in older age.10 Not only that, but the mind-body aspect of yoga makes it one of the best exercises for menopause, alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Our Programme’s yoga exercise videos paired with our mindfulness tools is truly a recipe for success!

Top tips for effective exercise

  1. Join a group or exercise with friends: If you’re new to exercising, or even if you’re simply finding movement more difficult post-menopause, finding a community can help to keep up your motivation and interest. Even if you don’t have someone in your life to exercise with, our Programme has a dedicated Community for you to interact with others going through a similar journey to you.
  2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: It’s always important to stay hydrated when exercising, but even more so if you’re menopausal, particularly as it helps to combat hot flushes. As you age, you not only lose thirst sensitivity, but also replenish water stores at a slower rate, so it’s important to keep up your body’s supply of liquids even if you don’t think you’re thirsty.11
  3. Experiment with when to exercise: Finding the right time of day to suit you can make or break your exercise experience. Create a routine that works for you and it’ll instantly feel less like a chore you need to fit in. If you find that you’re more energised in the morning, try an invigorating 30 minute HIIT workout before work, or if you’re more of a night-owl, why not try a low-impact evening Pilates class? 

You can find a range of workouts on our Programme, including these four best exercises for menopause. Sign up for your 7-day free trial of The Fast 800 Programme for instant access to workouts developed by fitness experts, and discover just how much it improves your symptoms and long-term health; you won’t regret it. 

References

Guthrie JR, Dennerstein L, Dudley EC. Weight gain and the menopause: a 5-year prospective study. Climacteric. 1999 Sep;2(3):205-11. doi: 10.3109/13697139909038063. PMID: 11910598.

Villaverde Gutiérrez C, Torres Luque G, Ábalos Medina GM, Argente del Castillo MJ, Guisado IM, Guisado Barrilao R, Ramírez Rodrigo J. Influence of exercise on mood in postmenopausal women. J Clin Nurs. 2012 Apr;21(7-8):923-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03972.x. PMID: 22409782.

Baker FC, Lampio L, Saaresranta T, Polo-Kantola P. Sleep and Sleep Disorders in the Menopausal Transition. Sleep Med Clin. 2018 Sep;13(3):443-456. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2018.04.011. PMID: 30098758; PMCID: PMC6092036.

Chang CF, Lee JI, Huang SP, Geng JH, Chen SC. Regular Exercise Decreases the Risk of Osteoporosis in Postmenopausal Women. Front Public Health. 2022 Jun 15;10:897363. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.897363. PMID: 35784236; PMCID: PMC9240347.

Falcone PH, Tai CY, Carson LR, Joy JM, Mosman MM, McCann TR, Crona KP, Kim MP, Moon JR. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Mar;29(3):779-85. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000661. PMID: 25162652.

Ito S. High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases – The key to an efficient exercise protocol. World J Cardiol. 2019 Jul 26;11(7):171-188. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v11.i7.171. PMID: 31565193; PMCID: PMC6763680.

Greendale GA, Sternfeld B, Huang M, Han W, Karvonen-Gutierrez C, Ruppert K, Cauley JA, Finkelstein JS, Jiang SF, Karlamangla AS. Changes in body composition and weight during the menopause transition. JCI Insight. 2019 Mar 7;4(5):e124865. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.124865. PMID: 30843880; PMCID: PMC6483504

Lee H, Caguicla JM, Park S, Kwak DJ, Won DY, Park Y, Kim J, Kim M. Effects of 8-week Pilates exercise program on menopausal symptoms and lumbar strength and flexibility in postmenopausal women. J Exerc Rehabil. 2016 Jun 30;12(3):247-51. doi: 10.12965/jer.1632630.315. PMID: 27419122; PMCID: PMC4934971.

Motorwala ZS, Kolke S, Panchal PY, Bedekar NS, Sancheti PK, Shyam A. Effects of Yogasanas on osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Int J Yoga. 2016 Jan-Jun;9(1):44-8. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.171717. PMID: 26865770; PMCID: PMC4728958.

Charde SH, Joshi A, Raut J. A Comprehensive Review on Postmenopausal Osteoporosis in Women. Cureus. 2023 Nov 9;15(11):e48582. doi: 10.7759/cureus.48582. PMID: 38090417; PMCID: PMC10711335.

Stachenfeld NS. Hormonal changes during menopause and the impact on fluid regulation. Reprod Sci. 2014 May;21(5):555-61. doi: 10.1177/1933719113518992. Epub 2014 Feb 3. PMID: 24492487; PMCID: PMC3984489.

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