Menopause is a great but rather confusing time of life for many women. With hormone fluctuations, weight gain and a loss of bone structure and density, many women have to deal with sudden and unexpected changes, which will affect them for some time. It is no surprise that maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout this time will help you to feel much better.
Both regular exercise and a positive mindset will help to assuage many feelings and symptoms experienced by women going through the menopause, including mood swings, depression, sleeplessness and hot flushes.
Pilates, in particular, helps these symptoms as the breathing and stretching exercises used are both relaxing and calming, helping women going through the menopause to sleep better and become more in tune with the changes in their bodies. Pilates is low-intensity but does help to increase flexibility and balance, whilst also improving muscle tone and strength.
Menopause and the Mind
Many women who are going through the menopause note that they experience mood swings, irritability and depression. It is already known that moderate to low-intensity exercise helps to manage these symptoms and the deep-breathing and stretching exercises involved with pilates will help to combat any symptoms of stress and irritability.
Deep abdominal breathing exercises help to calm and refocus the mind, but it also helps to strengthen and tone abdominal muscles. Often, fatigue is another symptom associated with the menopause, but a pilates session of breathing and stretching exercises may help you to relax enough to better promote a good night’s sleep.
Menopause and the Body
As we age, we may notice more wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity. Collagen is the main protein found within connective tissue and it is also responsible for the strength and elasticity of our skin. When we get older, we start to lose the ability to rebuild collagen, which then leads to more wrinkles and a decrease in muscle tone. Exercise is a proven collagen-stimulant and has been known to encourage the regeneration of collagen in bones and muscles, which is an extra bonus for menopausal women who may also be experiencing symptoms of osteoporosis.
As well as the loss of muscle tone and skin elasticity, many women going through the menopause also experience weight gain. Often, this weight gain occurs around the middle but can occur with fat and weight loss around the hips and thighs. This is due to hormone fluctuations throughout the body and your natural metabolism slowing down. Although there are plenty of ways to treat this, exercise is a great way to combat this naturally.
However, it is important to know the type of exercise which will help you. If weight gain is an issue for you, then there needs to be an effort made to reduce the number of calories consumed and the level of activity done on a daily basis. Getting your heart rate up and maintaining it for around 20 minutes will both release endorphins into the bloodstream and give your metabolism a boost. If you are a woman who has not participated in regular exercise for a while, then you may find that getting into pilates does this for you, and you can then move onto more cardio-focused workouts.
As well as exercise, it is important you are eating a healthy, balanced diet if you are suffering from symptoms of the menopause. What you eat will affect your menopause symptoms, either positively or negatively. Fruits and vegetables are packed with minerals and vitamins as well as antioxidants and fiber and it has been shown in studies that women who eat more fruit, vegetables, fiber and soy can experience up to a 19% reduction in menopause symptoms. You may also find that your doctor recommends additional vitamins and supplements, such as probiotic capsules or magnesium tablets to combat your symptoms further.
Menopause and the Spirit
The start of the menopause can feel like a time of loss for many women. This time can mark the loss of their youth, ability to bear children or even empty-nest syndrome, as well as dealing with a changing body and muddled mind. It is a lot to handle, which is why symptoms of depression are so high in menopausal women. Taking up pilates will help to make women feel better which then means that they are then able to better deal with the madness which menopause brings.
The menopause is also a time of self-reflection for women, with many finding the drive and desire to go on and learn new things or take up a new hobby or exercise, such as pilates.