Fitness Through Menopause - Foundry Personal Training Gyms

Fitness Through Menopause

Menopause marks a significant transition in a woman’s life, typically between 45 and 55. This natural biological process heralds various physical and psychological changes due to hormonal adjustments, primarily involving reduced production of estrogen and progesterone. Common symptoms associated with menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, mood swings, and decreased bone density, all of which can substantially affect a woman’s lifestyle and health.

The importance of maintaining an active lifestyle during menopause cannot be overstated. Fitness plays a crucial role not only in managing and alleviating the direct symptoms of menopause but also in enhancing overall well-being. Regular exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, strengthen bones, increase muscle mass, reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and improve psychological health by reducing anxiety and depression.

By incorporating a tailored exercise regimen into daily routines, women can navigate this transitional period with greater ease and improved health. The discussion will cover different types of exercises suited to the needs of menopausal women and provide practical advice on how to incorporate these activities into an effective fitness plan.


Menopause and Its Impact on Health

Menopause is defined as the natural cessation of menstrual periods and marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It is characterised by the ovaries producing less estrogen and progesterone, hormones that regulate menstruation and ovulation.

The decline in estrogen and progesterone levels during menopause brings about significant biological changes. Estrogen is pivotal for reproduction and plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of various bodily systems. It reduces bone density, heart health, skin elasticity, and fat distribution. Likewise, changes in progesterone levels can affect sleep patterns and mood stability.

The decrease in estrogen levels is associated with several health issues:

Lower estrogen levels can lead to a decrease in bone density, increasing the risk of fractures.

Cardiovascular Health:
Estrogen helps maintain the flexibility of arteries, and its reduction raises the risk of vascular problems.

Skin and Tissue Health:
Reduced estrogen can lead to less elastic skin and weakened vaginal and urinary tissues.

Changes in progesterone levels primarily influence mood and sleep:

Mood Swings and Depression:
Fluctuations in progesterone can contribute to mood instability and feelings of depression.

Sleep Disturbances:
Progesterone is a precursor to sleep-inducing compounds in the brain, and its reduction can lead to insomnia.

The hormonal upheavals during menopause contribute to both physical and mental health challenges:

Weight Gain:
Metabolic rates slow down during menopause, leading to easier weight gain, especially around the abdomen. This is compounded by the muscle mass that tends to decrease with age.

Muscle Loss:
Decreased hormone levels contribute to a reduction in muscle mass and strength, a condition known as sarcopenia.

Mood Swings:
The hormonal changes can cause significant mood swings, irritability, and increased anxiety.

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats:
These are among the most common and discomforting symptoms associated with menopause, affecting up to 75% of women.


Managing Menopause Symptoms with Exercise

The transition through menopause can be challenging, but exercise plays a pivotal role in mitigating many of the symptoms associated with this stage of life. Scientific research supports the numerous benefits that physical activity brings to post-menopausal health, particularly in addressing weight management, muscle mass retention, and mental well-being.

Research consistently shows that regular exercise during and after menopause can significantly improve health. First, it boosts cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart disease, which tends to rise after menopause due to hormonal changes affecting blood vessels. Second, physical activity increases the metabolic rate, which helps burn more calories and counteracts the metabolic slowdown associated with ageing. Additionally, weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones, countering the rapid bone density loss due to decreased estrogen levels.

One of the most visible effects of menopause is weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. This change is partly due to the body’s response to lower estrogen levels, which can influence fat distribution and metabolism. Regular exercise helps increase or maintain the metabolic rate, which in turn helps manage weight more effectively. Moreover, strength training exercises are crucial as they help combat muscle loss (sarcopenia), which accelerates during menopause. By engaging in resistance training, women can preserve and even build muscle mass, which helps maintain a healthier weight, supports joint health, and maintains functional abilities.

Menopause can often bring about fluctuations in mood and increased anxiety or depression. Physical activity is a potent mood regulator, mainly due to the release of endorphins, usually called ‘feel-good’ hormones. Regular engagement in exercise leads to improved general mood and decreased feelings of depression. Aerobic exercises, such as jogging, cycling, or swimming, have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression significantly. These activities help manage stress by improving the efficiency of the body’s stress response mechanisms and providing a distraction from daily worries.

Exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety and enhances cognitive functions, which might be impacted during menopause. Activities that increase heart rate and involve social interaction and coordination (like dance or team sports) can improve cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain and fostering social connections, which is essential for mental health.


Exercise Support Through Menopause

During menopause, women experience significant physical changes that can affect lifestyle and health. However, incorporating a well-rounded exercise regimen can help manage these changes effectively. Here’s a look at some of the most beneficial exercises for menopausal women, tailored to their unique health needs.

Strength Training:

Strength training combats the typical muscle loss and bone density decrease during menopause.

  • Muscle Mass and Bone Density:

Strength training helps maintain and even increase muscle mass, which tends to diminish with age and hormonal changes. This exercise also stresses the bones, which helps maintain or improve bone density, thus reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

  • Exercises:

Practical strength training exercises include squats targeting the lower body and core, supporting the spine and improving balance. Bench presses strengthen the chest, shoulders, and arms, enhancing upper body strength. Resistance training, involving elastic bands or weight machines, can be adjusted to suit individual strength levels and is excellent for comprehensive muscle engagement.

Cardiovascular Exercises:

Cardio exercises are essential for maintaining heart health and managing weight, which can be challenging during menopause.

  • Heart Health and Preventing Weight Gain:

Cardiovascular exercises help improve the efficiency of the heart and lungs, reduce blood pressure, and help manage body weight by burning calories. This is particularly important as metabolism tends to slow down during menopause, increasing the risk of weight gain.

  • Exercises:

Brisk walking is a low-impact cardio exercise that can be easily incorporated into daily routines. Whether stationary or on-road, cycling is excellent for joint health and cardiovascular endurance. Swimming provides a full-body workout that minimises stress on joints while effectively enhancing cardiovascular fitness.

Low-Impact and Flexibility Exercises:

These exercises maintain joint health, flexibility, and overall mobility, which can decline during menopause.

  • Joint Health and Flexibility:

Low-impact exercises such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are beneficial as they enhance flexibility, improve balance and coordination, and strengthen muscles with minimal joint strain.

  • Activities:

Yoga can also aid in stress reduction and mental focus, which is beneficial during menopause. Pilates focuses on core strength, alignment, and balance. Tai chi promotes gentle movements that are meditative and effective in improving balance and muscle control.


When choosing an exercise program, consider your health and fitness levels. Menopausal women should:

  • Start slowly and increase exercise intensity gradually.
  • Consult healthcare providers about pre-existing conditions that might affect their ability to perform certain exercises.
  • Consider menopause-specific symptoms and tailor exercise routines to mitigate these symptoms effectively.
  • Pay attention to body signals to avoid overtraining and injuries.


Menopause Friendly Exercise Routine

Creating an exercise routine that is tailored to the needs of menopausal women can significantly enhance their health and quality of life. Below are guidelines and tips for starting and maintaining a menopause-friendly exercise routine.

Safety First:
Before starting any new exercise program, menopausal women need to consult with their healthcare provider, especially if they have pre-existing health conditions.

Start Slowly:
Start with low-intensity exercises and gradually increase the intensity and duration as your fitness improves. This approach helps build endurance and strength without overwhelming the body.

Warm-ups and Cool-downs:
Begin every exercise session with a warm-up to prepare the muscles and cardiovascular system for activity. End with a cool-down to help the body return to rest.

Variety in Workouts:

Mix Different Types of Exercises:
Include a variety of exercises to cover all aspects of fitness—strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular health. This enhances overall wellness and keeps the routine exciting and engaging.

Change Your Routine Regularly:
Altering your exercise routine every few weeks can prevent plateaus in physical improvement and maintain your motivation. This might involve trying new sports, changing the set of exercises, or adjusting the intensity and duration of workouts.

Exercise in Daily Life:

Set Realistic Goals:
Set achievable goals that motivate you without being overwhelming. Start with simple targets, like walking 30 minutes a day, three days a week, and gradually build on these.

Schedule Exercise into Your Day:
Treat your exercise time like any other appointment. By scheduling it, you’re more likely to stick to your routine.

Stay Motivated with Social Support:
Exercise with friends, join a fitness group or try a small group personal training class. Social support can increase your commitment to and enjoyment of regular physical activity.

Monitoring Exercise Intensity and Duration:

Use the Talk Test:
A simple way to measure exercise intensity is the talk test. During moderate-intensity activities, you should be able to talk but not sing. During vigorous activities, you should be able to say only a few words without pausing for breath.

Track Your Progress:
Use a journal or an app to record your exercise duration, intensity, and how you feel during and after workouts. This can help you make informed adjustments to your routine.

Listen to Your Body:
Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you experience pain, excessive fatigue, or any other adverse symptoms, adjust your exercise intensity, duration, or type. Recovery days are crucial to prevent overtraining and injuries.


Supporting Exercise Through Diet

The right dietary choices significantly support an effective exercise regimen during menopause. Nutrition plays a critical role in managing menopause symptoms, boosting energy levels, and enhancing the effectiveness of workouts.


Calcium and Vitamin D:
It is essential for bone health as menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis. Include dairy products, fortified foods, leafy greens, and fish with bones in your diet. Consider supplements if dietary intake might not meet daily needs.

Vital for maintaining muscle mass, which tends to decrease during menopause. Lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, and dairy products are excellent sources of high-quality protein.

It is necessary to compensate for iron loss in pre-menopausal women and to maintain energy levels. Good sources include lean red meat, poultry, fish, lentils, and fortified cereals.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes should be part of your daily intake to help regulate blood sugar levels and benefit cardiovascular health.
Healthy Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon and sardines, flaxseeds, and walnuts benefit joint health and reduce overall inflammation.


Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and aids in maintaining optimal physical performance. Water helps regulate body temperature, which is particularly important for managing hot flashes. It also facilitates digestion and helps prevent constipation, a common issue during menopause.

Meal Timing and Exercise:

Pre-Exercise Nutrition:
A small, balanced meal or snack with carbohydrates and protein can boost energy before workouts. For example, a banana with a small serving of yoghurt or a slice of whole-grain toast with peanut butter can be effective.

Post-Exercise Nutrition:
After exercising, it’s essential to replenish your body. A meal or snack high in protein can aid in muscle recovery and growth. A smoothie with protein powder, berries, and a handful of spinach can be a refreshing post-workout recovery drink.

Avoiding Triggers:

Some women may find that certain foods can trigger or worsen menopause symptoms. Common triggers include spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. Paying attention to how your body reacts to different foods and adjusting your diet can help manage these symptoms more effectively.



Q1: Can exercise help manage menopause symptoms?
Absolutely. Regular physical activity during menopause can help manage a wide range of symptoms, including hot flashes, weight gain, and mood swings. Studies have shown that women who engage in regular exercise report fewer hot flashes and improved mood and energy levels.

Q2: What is the best type of exercise for menopause?
A combination of aerobic, strength, and flexibility training is most beneficial. Aerobic exercises help improve cardiovascular health and manage weight, strength training combats muscle loss and supports bone health, and flexibility exercises like yoga can improve joint function and reduce stress.

Q3: How often should I exercise if I’m going through menopause?
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity spread throughout the week. Include muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

Q4: I’m experiencing joint pain. Should I still exercise?
Yes, but you may need to modify your exercise routine. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, or elliptical training can reduce joint strain while providing cardiovascular benefits. Consult a physical therapist for exercises that can be safely performed without worsening joint pain.

Q5: Does exercise during menopause help with weight control?
Yes, exercise is crucial in weight control during menopause. As metabolism naturally slows down during this period, regular physical activity is essential to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. Combining cardiovascular exercises with strength training is most effective.

Q6: What dietary considerations should I consider to support my exercise routine during menopause?
Focus on a balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, iron, protein, and fibre. Stay hydrated, and time your meals and snacks to support your energy levels for exercise. Avoiding or reducing intake of triggers like spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol can also help manage symptoms.

Q7: Are there any risks associated with exercising during menopause?
For most women, moderate exercise is safe during menopause and brings numerous health benefits. However, you should consult your doctor to discuss necessary precautions if you have certain health conditions, such as severe osteoporosis or heart disease.

Q8: How can I stay motivated to continue exercising through menopause?
Set realistic goals, track your progress, and incorporate variety into your exercise routine to keep it interesting. Joining classes or groups can also provide social support and accountability, which are great for maintaining motivation.

If you have any questions on the above or would like some advice on women’s fitness on how we could help you, don’t hesitate to visit one of our personal training gyms in London – we would love to hear from you.


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