How can daily exercise help me through menopause?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Daily exercise is helpful to general well-being, but during menopause it can especially help with insomnia or hot flashes. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Exercise doesn't mean that you have to join a gym or have a complicated program. Just take a short walk or enjoy gardening. Increase the fitness level and length of exercise as you become more fit.

Regular exercise can improve your mood and is helpful to emotional health at all phases of a woman's life. Exercise during menopause can especially improve the occasional moodiness of menopause. Make sure you take good care of yourself to achieve emotional health and well-being.

Regular exercise can do a world of good to relieve menopause symptoms. It can elevate your mood and help you sleep more soundly. Moreover, it is a memory aid. A study in women ages 50 to 63 indicated that the more the women engaged in moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, the better their memories were.

The benefits of exercise are extensive, especially when it comes to your emotional health. Exercise increases energy, decreases fatigue and promotes calmness. Resistance and aerobic exercise, high-frequency exercise and meditative exercise, such as tai chi and yoga are known to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Exercise can also help promote better sleep. And we all know a good night's sleep can be a major mood saver. Walking or using a stationary bicycle or treadmill for 30 minutes at least three to four times a week can help improve sleep quality and reduce daytime sleepiness.

Exercise increases estrogen levels, endorphins (natural opiates) and serotonin, all of which decrease mood swings, anxiety and depression. Exercise also reduces weight gain, which accompanies menopause by increasing appetite.

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Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Exercise can help you sleep. Exercise raises your body temperature above normal, and as your body temperature starts to fall a few hours later, that triggers your body to get ready for sleep. It's also beneficial to exercise when you are going through menopause, because by age 50 you are burning 200 fewer calories per day than you were at age 30. In addition to helping you sleep better, regular exercise improves your mood, gives you energy and helps you feel less sleepy during the day.

The best kind of exercise for a good night's sleep is a cardiovascular workout; and the best strategy is to do vigorous exercise in the late afternoon or early evening. Raise your heart rate by walking, running, swimming, aerobics, dancing—anything you like to do that gets you moving and sweating! If you'd like to do something physical late in the day, try yoga. A recent study found that a few yoga sessions a week could help ease sleep problems and other effects of menopause.

Angela Spires
Administration Specialist

It is common for women to experience emotional symptoms as they go through menopause. The symptoms often are depression, anxiety and moodiness. There are many studies showing the benefits of exercise on psychological ailments such as depression. Exercise has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, a neuro transmitter that has a key role in the development of depression, in the brain. Exercise also reduces cortisol, a hormone associated with depression and weight gain. In 2008, a study was published that demonstrated mild to moderate exercise reduced symptoms and risk of anxiety, stress and depression associated with menopause.

Daily exercise can help you through menopause because physical activity is a key component in fighting against hormone imbalance. A regular exercise program that includes aerobic and strength training can help you return to your slimmer former self after your hormones change. To determine the most effective exercise program, it’s important to set your own priorities. For example:

  • To tame mood swings, do moderate aerobic exercise.
  • For the most efficient fat loss, do interval training, alternating one minute (or perhaps less, to start) of sprinting with a few minutes of slow jogging or even walking. The idea is to go at a speed that is close to your top capacity for a short burst, slow down, speed up, slow down, and so on.
  • To improve bone density, do strength training, always working all the major muscle groups.
  • To sculpt your body, progressively work each muscle group more intensely, using a combination of exercises for each part of your body to work different types of muscle fibers. To learn how to do it effectively, most people need some help from a fitness professional.
  • If you want to improve your ability to do specific tasks, such as playing golf or tennis, or have medical conditions such as arthritis, seek out appropriate classes or get a personal program that targets those goals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.