While getting yourself hot and sweaty in a workout offers numerous benefits, it’s not the only type of perimenopause exercise that matters.
The other side of the workout coin is to focus on slow, intentional movement that builds the connection between your brain and your body. Exercise is known to deliver benefits both physical and psychological. Finding the type of workout that appeals to you to support both elements is a fun personal investigation.
Yoga is the Perimenopause Exercise Poster Child
One of the best studied forms of perimeopause exercise is yoga. Physical benefits include increased flexibility and strength, both of which are important for mobility and bone health. Psychological benefits of a regular yoga practice include improved mood and mental clarity. Positive effects of hatha yoga are both physical and psychological, and it’s something almost anyone can do right from home.
For women who are juggling the multiple priorities of work, family life, and caretaking for elderly parents, inserting some intentional movement with deep breathing has immediate physiological benefits. By practicing self-care of movement and breath, you can reduce stress.
Yoga nidra or restorative yoga are two forms of perimenopause exercise that can help lower stress levels. By holding postures for a longer period of time, the nervous system calms down and recalibrates. And with lower stress levels come less of the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol is lower and steadier, there is less abdominal weight gain, greater mental clarity, and a better sense of emotional balance. This psychological boost has meaningful physical effects.
Restorative yoga offers physical benefits as well. I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t have tight shoulders or a sometimes-sore lower back. In restorative yoga, bodies are arranged in carefully aligned postures and held for several minutes. When combined with deep breathing and mental release, the muscles release their grip. Many women find profound release and relief through restorative yoga.
Aqua yoga also offers intentional movement coordinated with the breath. With the added benefit of hydrostatic pressure to calm the nervous system and lower blood pressure, aqua yoga also offers perimenopausal women the opportunity to move their body in a supported way.
Finding the balance between high intensity exercise and meditative movement is part of the perimenopause puzzle, Whatever way you choose to move your body, your muscles, your nervous system, and your brain will thank you.
After all, the body and the brain (and the spirit) really are all connected!