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Hot flashes, body aches, mood swings, weight gain.
These are the things we hear about menopause. It's no wonder so many women have dread, despair and stress around this time in their life. What we don't talk about, however, is all the opportunity women have at this time—to move better, get stronger and turn over a new leaf to complete mind-body connection.
It's important that we talk about menopause openly every day, but especially so during October for World Menopause Month. Below, trainer Antonietta and P.volve's Doctor of Physical Therapy Dr. Amy dive into menopause and movement.
1. Understand what your body is going through.
Menopause is defined as the time when a woman stops menstruating for 12 months. The time surrounding this, which can be several years, is called perimenopause. It is a normal and natural part of a woman’s life. The changing hormone levels during this time cause changes in our bodies. During this period women may experience a variety of symptoms, which vary woman to woman and vary in intensity.
Some of the most common symptoms are hot flashes, sleep disturbance, constipation, mood changes, bladder changes and vaginal dryness. Some of the other changes that occur may not necessarily cause symptoms, but are things to be aware of which include loss of bone density, postural changes and loss of muscle mass. The good news is that we can help mitigate many of these symptoms and enhance quality of life with movement.
2. Adapt to the changes.
It's a common misconception that there is nothing to do about these changes. On the contrary, movement is essential for women in this stage of life as it ties into all aspects of wellness in this population including weight management, cardiovascular health, stress reduction, improved sleep and brain health. Proper nutrition is also essential, as what we eat has a profound effect on how we feel and how our body functions. Symptoms of menopause, like so many other aspects of life and health, can be improved with two things: nutrition and movement.
3. Make way for a new kind of movement.
Women in this age bracket have gradual loss of muscle mass and increased incidence of gluteal tendinopathy (constant pain near the side of the hip), plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and rotator cuff tendinopathy (pain and inflammation near the shoulder.) Targeted hip, gluteal and abdominal/core strengthening as well as shoulder and postural exercises can help combat some of these gradual changes that occur as our hormone levels shift.
Pelvic floor strengthening is also essential to help the changing environment in the vaginal tissue due to lower levels of progesterone and estrogen surrounding menopause, which can affect pelvic organ support and function. Bone density loss is an important topic for perimenopause. Menopausal women should get bone density scans and monitor risk factors to ensure they are maintaining good bone health to help reduce risk of fracture. Weight bearing and higher resistance exercise is essential for maintaining and improving bone density and stimulating strong, healthy bones. Balance exercises are also essential to help maintain functional mobility and reduce fall risk.
4. Add resistance—the right way!
While mobility, stability and strengthening are a main part of the P.volve methodology, women in this group will benefit most with equipment that adds resistance such as the p.band, p.ball, heavy and light ankle bands and hand weights. Additionally, it is recommended that women also augment their exercise activities with heavier resistance weight training or light impact activities like stairs to maintain and build stronger bones.
The following programs from our on-demand platform were created with menopausal and post-menopausal women in mind and are recommended to help mitigate some of the effects of menopause:
- 30-Day Evolution: This series focuses on improving posture, functional mobility and creating stability and balance to reduce the risk of fall. If stability is a challenge, this series walks through holding onto something sturdy to simulate full balancing so women can get the benefit of working on one leg.
- Pelvic Floor Strengthening: This one is for pelvic floor strengthening. The first workout in the series will help women identify what and where the pelvic floor muscles are and how to use them. From there, the series builds in intensity so that women discover how to use their pelvic floor in other programs on the streaming platform.
5. Be patient and kind to yourself.
Embracing the changes in your body and working with your body during this phase can not only improve your symptoms but improve your quality of life. Understanding the changes to your body and empowering yourself with a plan to meet your health goals will set you up for success as you move into this phase of life. Proper nutrition, self care and appropriate movement programs are excellent tools to improve and maintain your lifestyle goals.
P.volve Trainer & VP of Talent and Training
Antonietta Vicario is a mover and educator, a mother, and a lover of life among many other things! Currently the Vice President of Talent and Training for
P.volve, Antonietta specializes in recruiting, training, and program development. She is in love with teaching the P.volve method, integrating functional training into a high-intensity, low-impact workout.
MEET DR. AMY
Dr. Amy Hoover is P.volve’s Doctor of Physical Therapy and the owner and operator of APHysio LLC, wellness practice that specializes in manual therapy, pre and post-natal care, pelvic floor disorders and more. Here at P.volve, she’s able to share her expertise directly with our community as it applies to the method and its impact on the body.