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Yahoo Life asked the question: Should you exercise differently in menopause? 

Yahoo Life asked the question: Should you exercise differently in menopause? 

Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, sparked debate when he launched two ‘menopause workouts’ on his YouTube channel. While his intentions were likely well-meaning, the labelling of the workout as ‘menopause’ and its focus on strength training with low impact—no jumping, for example—suggests a limited view of what women in this stage of life can achieve. Many women in menopause are still running, jumping, and fully capable of engaging in high-impact activities beyond his recommendations.

Yahoo Life approached WAFA Founder, Anna Jenkins 3 questions and these were her answers:

Should your exercise regime change when you’re in perimenopause and menopause and why?

This stage in life doesn’t necessarily mean stopping all the exercise activities you love due to physical changes. However, if a woman notices that she’s finding it harder to recover, experiencing more aching joints, stiffness, and frequent injuries, it could indicate that her current fitness regime needs a change. For instance, if a woman has always been a runner and rarely does anything else for fitness, incorporating strength and resistance training should be considered. This is due to the muscle weakening and lower bone density that can occur during this period. Pounding the streets can take its toll, so putting the muscles under controlled pressure through body or weight training will keep them and the bones strong to cope with the demands of running. This doesn’t mean lifting heavy barbells; body weight exercises and a set of dumbbells, with the right guidance, will be enough.


What do women need to do more/less of during this period of time and what are the reasons behind that?

During peri/post menopause, weight gain, and a reduction in muscle mass and strength can occur. Bones lose density, which can lead to conditions like osteoporosis where bones become weak and brittle. The answer to this question is subjective and depends on the individual, as not all women need to make drastic changes to their regime. However, if their current fitness routine isn’t keeping their body strong and energised, and they find themselves constantly lacking energy and experiencing body aches post training, an assessment of their activities is recommended. 

If the routine is cardio-based, such as running, spinning, or high-intensity training with a lot of high-impact movements, scaling back and focusing on strength training in a controlled environment might be necessary. Strength training helps put the body under pressure at a level that is right for the individual, enhancing muscle and bone strength.

Many women, due to life commitments, are more sedentary despite being busy. This group needs the most attention as a sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate menopausal symptoms. A menopausal body needs physical movement, so it is suggested that these women incorporate strength training into their schedules. Aiming for at least three 45-minute full-body strength workouts a week is beneficial.


Why is there so much confusion about the type of workouts/exercise you should do in this period?

The confusion stems from the abundance of opinions and so-called golden solutions being marketed. If we focus on the facts about the menopausal body, such as the reduction in muscle mass and bone density, the solution becomes clearer: we need to increase muscle mass and bone density. This is achieved through strength training, which involves making the body work against a weight or force.

Many women in peri/post menopause, including myself, grew up with the belief that we needed to do lots of cardio to burn calories, venturing only to the treadmill section in the gyms or following the likes of Jane Fonda (who we love by the way). We avoided the weights area for fear of doing strength training which would make us bulky with too much muscle, spoiling our attempts at wanting to be skinny or thin (which in the Kate Moss/Jodie Kidd days was the trend). 

Our generation has had to unlearn these misconceptions. We now understand that while cardio is important for heart health, strength training won’t make us bulky. Instead, it will help our bodies remain strong during this life stage, supporting longevity and the ageing process, which we cannot avoid.


You can read the Marie Claire Dorking from Yahoo Life’s article here: