If you are a woman 40+ experiencing hormonal swings, mood shifts, and weight gain, exercise in perimenopause may be the furthest thing from your mind.
In those rollercoaster years leading up to menopause, many women are just fighting to get through the day. And while you may not feel like you have the time or the inclination to exercise, it just may offer the relief you’re looking for.
Learn about three reasons movement matters and exercise in perimenopause should hold a spot in your schedule.
BUILD YOUR MUSCLES
Exercise helps you build lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate.
Think of it this way: when you move you stoke the fire of your internal engine. And when the fire is hot, it burns better. For you, that means when your metabolic rate increases, you burn more calories both when exercising and at rest.
So the more lean muscle mass you build, the more calories you burn. For women fighting perimenopausal weight gain, building your muscles is Reason One movement matters.
Even if you’re not experiencing perimenopausal weight gain, building muscles improves your functional fitness. Functional fitness is simply your ability to get through your regular life without feeling physically sore or challenged.
When it is easier to tackle the Everyday Olympics of your life, you have not only greater health but greater happiness, too.
STRENGTHEN YOUR BONES
You probably know that hormonal changes in perimenopause often lead to less bone density and brittle bones. As women age and move into menopause, they are at greater risk of bone fracture.
Weight bearing exercise in perimenopause is one of the best ways to support your bone health. Bone is composed of living tissue. Weight bearing exercise stimulates formation of new bone tissue, ensuring vital bones.
Exercise also promotes bone health because the living tissue of the bones respond to the forces placed upon it. When muscles tug on bones, they respond; in doing so, they become stronger.
IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
For women who have never had an exercise habit, it can be difficult to understand how getting hot and sweaty can actually improve your mood. Let’s start simple: increased blood flow = increased brain function.
Perimenopausal women who exercise regularly report greater mental clarity and less brain fog than when they do not exercise. Again, if the brain is being called upon to engage in specific, thoughtful movement, blood flow increases. More blood flow means the brain is stimulated.
Another mood-altering benefit of more exercise is that it often leads to better sleep. Deep, restorative sleep is critical for feeling your best. You may need to play around with what time of day you work out to reap the benefits of maximum quality sleep, but it’s worth it. Nothing beats a good night’s sleep.
Taken together, greater mental clarity and better sleep go a long way to improving your mood!
Another way of thinking about the benefits of exercise in perimenopause is my favorite mantra:
When you feel better, you feel better!
Quite simply, the overwhelming physical and mental benefits of exercise outstrip the unpleasant symptoms many perimenopausal women experience. If you can motivate yourself just to take the first step, I think you’ll find that building muscle, strengthening your bones, and improving your mood make perimenopause much easier to deal with.