I've always enjoyed cardio, I love running, swimming and cycling. Strength training has always bored me but it had it's place as it allowed me to continue running without injury. However as I've hit menopause I now realise that it should play a much more important role and as I do more of it I'm actually enjoying it. I had a terrible perimenopause that left me exhausted and depressed, I had panic attacks and my joints were so painful I found it hard to walk in the morning let alone run. The idea of working out was the last thing I wanted to do but I knew I had to keep moving for my mental and physical health.
I found light resistance training much more achievable than a 5 mile run and started spending a bit more time with my weights and after a while I could lift heavier and really started seeing some progress. Being a personal trainer for 15 years gave me a good idea of what I needed to do but I still felt like I wasn't working hard enough or doing the "right" things and it made me realise if I felt like that how do most women feel when they start strength training. Most have no idea how to put a program together or know if they are doing the exercises correctly. Many women think they will get big and bulky or they don't belong in the weight section of the gym. Most women I know that have a gym membership never go in the "GYM" they stick to classes. My job is to help you feel confident around weight training and to feel comfortable in the gym.
So why is strength training so important, especially during menopause? To persuade you to get started, I have listed some reasons for strength training during menopause.
Muscle Loss (Sarcopenia)
From the age of 35 we begin to lose muscle mass which accelerates as we hit menopause. We start looking a bit saggy, our knees and back start feeling stiff or sore, we feel weaker. Our muscles act like a corset holding us in and up, supporting our body and giving us energy to keep going all day. Strength training can halt this decline and if you work hard enough you can reverse this muscle loss.
Women who have a higher lean body mass, which essentially means more muscle than fat, will have reduced vasomotor symptoms of menopause by up to 70%.
Help with weight loss
You can never out train a bad diet. We’ve all heard of the expression that abs are made in the kitchen. And this is absolutely correct. To lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit, weight loss must start with your diet. Strength training will help you build lean muscle, and lean muscle uses up your calories really efficiently. That’s why the combination of a great nutrition plan and strength training is perfect for weight loss.
Evidence shows that building lean muscle can help you live longer. If you have more muscle mass, rather than fat mass, you are less likely to die prematurely. After menopause, women are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, osteoporosis and other risk factors. Strength training plays a significant role in keeping these diseases at bay.
There is a direct link between your mental health and strength training. Studies have shown how strength training can help reduce anxiety and improve depression. We live in such a stressed out world right now, and during menopause the reduction of estrogen and progesterone, leave us less able to cope with stresses than before. Introducing strength training can help release endorphins that can improve your well-being and state of mind.
Loading your bones during strength training helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis. As we lose estrogen our bones become thinner and more brittle, weighted or high impact workouts together with the correct nutrition can help strengthen your bones.
Reduce the risk of falling
Keeping your muscles strong reduces the risk of falling as we age, it also protects joints against injury.