woman exerciseWith its fluctuating hormones, menopause and the unpleasant symptoms that often accompany it - hot flashes, difficulty sleeping and fatigue - may have you looking for the nearest sofa or easy chair. But, fight the temptation, strap on your sneakers, and get moving instead.

Cardiologist Dwithiya K. Thomas, MD, FACC of St. Luke’s Cardiology Associates, says exercise may help you feel better before and during menopause, and help you stay stronger as you age.

Whether you’ve been active all your life or just starting out, exercise will speed up your metabolism and help you sleep better. In addition, it might just help you fight another common side effect of menopause: weight gain.

But what is its effect on the symptom most commonly associated with menopause – hot flashes, also called hot flushes? Many women who experience them shy away from exercise (especially strenuous types) for fear of bringing them on, making them worse, or harming themselves by raising their body temperature too high.

“Not to worry,” Dr. Thomas says. “The body is able to regulate temperature. The fact that you’re perspiring is a good sign that your body is working as it should.” In fact, recent studies indicate exercise, such as running, biking or rowing, may actually reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flashes.

For optimal health, Dr. Thomas recommends a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weight training. Both strengthen muscles and bones, which can ease movement, reduce pain, and help prevent falls later in life.
“By the time a woman reaches 20, she begins to lose bone density,” Dr. Thomas says. “Walking, running, and using light weights can decrease this loss.”

Exercise also significantly reduces your health risk for many chronic diseases. For example, people who exercise regularly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 40 percent and stroke by 30 percent. It also dramatically reduces your risk of developing diabetes, she says.

Although it seems counter-intuitive, exercise may also relieve pain and discomfort caused by arthritis. But it depends on the person. “Individuals with severe arthritis and bone loss need to use caution to prevent injury or falls,” she said. “If they are experiencing active inflammation, they may want to hold off until it clears or participate in a non-weight bearing activity like swimming.”

Similarly, people who have never exercised before might want to talk with their physician first, especially if they have heart disease or another chronic illness. Their doctor might want to give them specific instructions.

“I’ll give some of my patients a prescription of what to do,” she says. “For example, I might say walk for 10 minutes a day, three days a week and steadily increase the amount of time and frequency. When I see you again in six weeks, I want you to have worked up to 25 minutes a day, five times a week. By having a prescription, you can hold them accountable to it.”

Dr. Thomas encourages her patients to continue exercise long after their menopausal symptoms subside. “There’s no age when you should stop exercising,” she says. “I’ve seen some 90 plus year-olds still keeping up with their walking programs.”

More Health Articles

  • What’s a Geriatric Assessment?

    “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” -- Lucille Ball Lucy seldom gave good advice. Each episode when Ricky, Ethel, or Fred took her advice, they...

  • Advice for Staying Healthy

    Today, more than 72,000 Americans have reached the age of 100 and that exclusive club is growing. Between 2000 and 2016, the percentage of centenarians increased by more than 43 percent. Whether you aspire...

  • Benefits Of Eating Local Foods

    There are more and more farmers and growers markets in our area. We would do well to take advantage of our locally grown foods. While it is obvious that it helps to eat well and to help our local...

  • Benefits of Playing an Instrument

    Scientists have measured music’s effect on brain activity. While functions like math and reading affect specific parts of the brain, listening to music sets off multiple areas of the brain. But the...

  • Best Tips for Living Healthy

    Today, more than 72,000 Americans have reached the age of 100 and that exclusive club is growing. Between 2000 and 2016, the percentage of centenarians increased by more than 43 percent. Whether you...

  • Caution When Taking OTC Medications

    Over-the-counter medications (OTC’s) are medications that can be obtained without a prescription.  Keep in mind that they are still medications; therefore, they may cause side effects and drug...

 
Contact Us

Please enter your data here. Fields with an asterisk (*) are required.
Please provide us with a phone number or email so we may respond to your request.
Full Name (*)

Please type your full name.
E-mail

Invalid email address.
Phone

Invalid Input- please enter in form: 123-456-7890
How may we be of service? (*)

Please tell us how big is your company.
Please enter the characters shown. (*)
Please enter the characters shown.
Refresh
Invalid Input