Training and Nutrition During the Menopause
Menopause. Something every woman knows they will experience eventually, yet something that is very rarely talked about. It refers to a time in a woman’s life when they reach a certain age, their periods have ceased for at least a year and they are no longer able to get pregnant. All women experience it, with varying degrees of the symptoms that come alongside it.
For some women, these symptoms can be mild and they are able to continue with their normal lives. For others, they can be debilitating to the point that everyday life becomes a real struggle. Relationships, work, sleep, mental health, and everything involved with having a healthy lifestyle are all impacted.
During this time, it’s very common for women to feel left behind in the world. Menopause can often be seen as something they ‘just have to deal with’.
Firstly, I would strongly advise any woman experiencing debilitating symptoms of the menopause to visit their GP, particularly one that specialises in women’s health. This is particularly important if it’s having a negative impact on daily life, mental health, work or relationships. There are many options for treatment of symptoms, with the benefits often outweighing the potential minor risks.
What I would like to focus on in this blog is training and nutrition during menopause. In particular, how women can include training and optimise their nutrition in order to help with their journey through the menopause.
Menopause and Training
Weight bearing exercises improve our bone health and increase our likelihood of retaining and building lean muscle tissue as we age. This is incredibly important for menopausal women. The natural decline in oestrogen levels can directly be linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Improving our bone health through strength training and adequate intake of calcium can be key in preventing or prolonging the onset of this degenerative disease.
Strength training can feel incredibly intimidating to start with. This is particularly so for women who are feeling like their body is starting to fail them. Body weight exercises are a great place to start. Here at Lift Off, our coaches understand the importance of mastering your body weight through correct form and technique before adding load. We have witnessed many of our older, female clients gain confidence through feeling more ‘in control’ of their bodies.
Menopause and Nutrition
As far as nutritional advice goes, the menopause can be a tricky time. While the menopause will not ‘make’ you gain weight, fat tissue is more likely to be placed around the abdomen. With enhanced feelings of depression, anxiety and heightened emotions, women often find themselves eating less than optimally.
Having a focus on good quality sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats, preferably from whole food sources, is a good place to start. Limiting the amount of refined sugars, trans fats and processed foods can also help. Calcium is extremely important for bone health. Recent research suggests the inclusion of soya based products can also be beneficial. This is because they contain high amounts of phytoestrogens which can aid in alleviating the symptoms that come from a decline in natural oestrogen in the body.
What about Supplements?
Vitamin D for bone and skin health, and Omega-3 to support joints and immunity can certainly be beneficial. Many women find other supplements advantageous in alleviating symptoms. However, this is more anecdotal. Any new supplement should be introduced on a trial basis rather than all at once! Supplements are only there to support, with most symptoms being alleviated by prescribed medications from their GP.
The most important thing for women who are struggling with the menopause? Talk. Reach out. Ask for help! Stay active, and fuel yourself with a variety of good quality food.
If you need help starting strength training or are looking for nutritional advice around your menopause, get in touch with one of our coaches. We’d be only too happy to support you.
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