Work it Out: Top Exercises to Transform Your Perimenopause Experience

Abstract: Find out why exercise is important for women, and which exercises women should do to improve brain, body, and mental health as they age.

Many of our followers and past patients have told us that by the time they reach menopausal age, they want to slow down, enjoy life and the many treats it offers, and stop trying to achieve society’s expectations of female body shapes.

We understand, and agree – to a point.

Maintaining a healthy weight is not just about how you look (although body confidence can help combat low self-esteem). More importantly, it is about how you feel, and your long term well being.

A healthy and regular exercise routine is extremely important for your mind, your body, and your mood.

As you enter perimenopause, visceral body fat tends to accumulate around your internal organs like your heart, liver, intestines, etc. Excess visceral fat can put stress on these organs to the point that they struggle to function as they’re meant to, contributing to symptoms such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and more. Excess visceral fat also raises the risk of serious diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and strokes.

Your body and mind need your support in order to stay strong and healthy in the years to come, and the more effort you put into strength and endurance today, the more benefits you’ll have as you age.

Ready to challenge the norms and reclaim your health? Dive deeper into how maintaining strength and vitality can transform your perimenopausal experience. Keep reading to find out how you can support your body and mind through these transformative years.

Keep reading to learn:

  1. Why is exercise important?
  2. The benefits of exercise: body health
  3. The benefits of exercise: brain healthd.
  4. The benefits of exercise: mood health
  5. The best exercises for the heart (examples)
  6. The best exercises for the brain (examples)
  7. 3 female-focused apps to help track exercise
  8. Are there exercises women should not do?
  9. Reduce symptoms that are holding you back from exercise

Why is exercise important?

You likely already know that regular physical exercise is crucial for maintaining your physical, heart, and lung fitness throughout your life.

Yet, exercise doesn’t have to be extreme or intense, and you don’t have to exercise for very long periods at a time. A moderate and balanced exercise routine on a daily (preferably) or weekly basis has tremendous benefits to your long-term health. Thirty minutes every day, or as many days of a week as possible, of uninterrupted exercise can significantly improve your overall health and wellness.

There are two key types of exercise that experts recommend:

  1. aerobic exercise (walking, biking, swimming, etc)
  2. muscle strengthening (weight training, body weight exercises)

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, muscle strengthening activities should be done at least twice a week, and are usually designed to target the hips, legs, back, arms, stomach and shoulders, to help your body maintain a strong core and strong limbs as you age.

It’s important to understand how exercise benefits your body, and why you should be aware of the risks of not exercising, so that you can make informed decisions about your lifestyle.

Let’s talk about the benefits of exercise on the various aspects of your health, and then we’ll tell you which exercises are best for maximum perimenopausal benefits.

The benefits of exercise: body health

Exercise is important to help you maintain a healthy body. For instance, a regular exercise routine can help you improve heart health by:

  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Lessening your risk of developing diabetes
  • Helping you maintain a healthy body weight, thus reducing stress placed on organs from excess body fat
  • Reducing inflammation (which causes aches and pains) throughout your body

Regular exercise can help you to reduce the risk of heart disease because it:

  • Improves your muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the blood (reducing the amount your heart needs to pump)
  • Reduces stress hormones that put extra burden on the heart
  • Works like a beta blocker to slow heart rate and lower blood pressure
  • Increases high-density lipoprotein (or HDL cholesterol), your good cholesterol, and helps control triglycerides (a type of fat that circulates in your blood)

Physical activity helps to reduce your risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and other serious health concerns, as well as improve lung endurance, muscle endurance, and ongoing energy levels.

The benefits of exercise: brain health

Exercise is not just about muscle strengthening and cardiovascular endurance, although those are obviously huge benefits. Exercise is also your body’s means of transporting blood throughout your body – including to your brain.

As we age, circulation may be impacted as our blood volume decreases, and blood takes a little longer to fill

certain areas, like our brains.

Exercise can help to improve blood circulation, and it can also help to increase the thickness of our cerebral cortex in the brain.

Exercise helps to improve your cognitive fitness by helping your brain to retain memory and optimal functioning.

Regular exercise can help to:

  • Promote cardiovascular health, improving blood flow to the brain (which is how your brain gets nutrients and oxygen)
  • Reduce inflammation throughout the body, including your brain
  • Lower levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, which can impact your brain’s attention, focus, and executive functioning

The benefits of exercise: mood health

Women experience the aging process differently from men because we experience menopause, which comes with its own host of symptoms and body changes that can add stress and discomfort to our lives.

The good news is, exercise can really help to manage certain challenging symptoms of menopause, and help to reduce the risk of developing other diseases during the menopausal phase caused by changes to our aging bodies.

For instance, when women enter perimenopause and experience menopause, common symptoms include:

Related: The changes you’re experiencing may be caused by perimenopause – take a look at what to expect during perimenopause.

How does exercise help combat perimenopausal symptoms?

The benefits of strength-focused exercise for women

Strength-focused exercises are particularly beneficial to women as we age. Physically, strength development helps women to:

  • Improve muscle mass and strength
  • Increase bone density
  • Enhance metabolism
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Improve joint health

As these are all serious concerns for women as they age, strength-based exercises can help to decrease the risk of developing serious health conditions in later years, like osteoporosis, arthritis, and more.

Strength-based exercises are focused more on strengthening important muscles through repetitive actions (sets), over a period of time (30 mins or more, daily if possible). Some examples of strength-based exercises that are important for women’s health include:

  • Squats or push-ups
  • Planks
  • Bridges
  • Bicep curls
  • Shoulder press with dumbbells or resistance bands
  • Lunges
  • Calf raises
  • Etc

These are all designed to help you strengthen your core, toughen your limbs, and help you build up a resistance against muscle and bone deterioration as you age.

In addition to the benefits that regular exercise can have on your body health and your brain health, exercise is important to maintain positivity and self-confidence as you age.

Let’s talk about which exercises are best for each aspect of your health.

The best exercises for the heart (and examples)

Aerobics: Aerobic exercise is a type of physical activity that uses your body’s large muscle groups, elevates heart rate, and includes activities such as:

  • Walking or jogging
  • Cycling
  • Cardio equipment
  • Swimming

Strength Work: Strength work, or resistance training, helps to reduce fat and create lean
muscle mass. Examples include:

  • Free weights like hand weights, dumbbells or barbells
  • Weight machines
  • Resistance bands
  • Body weight exercises like push-ups and squats

Flexibility and Balance: Stretching exercises and flexibility workouts can help you to improve balance and core strength, maintain mobility, as well as improve heart health, and reduce joint pain caused by inflexibility. Some examples include:

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Stretching fitness classes or videos available online

The best exercises for the brain (and examples)

Many of the exercises that are good for your heart are going to be good for your brain, and your mood, as well. But not all exercise requires extreme physical activity. Here are some exercises that are specifically good for your brain health.

Interval Training: Interval training is a workout system in which you alternate between two activities or two levels of intensity. This is a form of HIIT (or high-intensity interval training). You should check with a doctor before you decide how “intense” your exercises are, but the most important part is the interval aspect, balancing between activity and rest or recovery periods. Examples include:

  • Alternate between walking for one minute, then jogging for one minute.
  • Swimming hard for one minute, doing leisurely laps for a minute
  • Cycling hard for one minute, coasting for a minute

Brisk Walking: While any walking is good for your health, fast walking has particular benefits for brain health. Studies show that walking more than 4000 steps a day has a positive impact on memory in older adults, as well as improving brain and cardiovascular health. For extra fun, consider:

  • Walking in groups to add a social element to your exercise
  • Driving to beautiful and scenic locations for a change in view during each walk, to keep your mind and eyes engaged
  • Consider a long, fast walk in nature for the extra health benefits of being immersed in nature

Puzzles: Like we said – not all exercise has to be extremely physical. You’ve probably heard before that jigsaw puzzles are great for concentration and hand-eye coordination as we age. Jigsaw puzzles are good exercises for the brain, but they’re not the only puzzles that help to maintain cognitive function. Try these puzzles, too:

  • Card games
  • Chess
  • Word games like crossword puzzles or Scrabble games
  • Number games like Sudoku and math puzzles
  • Adult education classes for continued learning
  • Learning a new language or instrument
  • Any activity that keeps your brain active and learning every year is good for optimal brain health

3 female-focused apps to help track exercise

There are many, many (many) exercise, fitness and health apps available now. But which ones are more female-focused? Which ones are worth exploring? Some apps cost money, and some are free. Some track menstrual cycles, and some are focused on health.

Which apps are right for you?

While your specific choice of app to track your exercise routines is up to you, depending on your budget and your interests, here are 3 apps that were designed specifically with women’s health in mind to help you track your exercise.

  • MyFitnessPal: This app offers tailored fitness and nutrition plans that customize workout routines and nutrition plans, specifically designed for women.
  • Reverse Health: A menopause-specific app that helps to provide nutrition plans and supports exercise routines for women who are experiencing changes in their menstrual cycles.
  • Workout for Women: This Apple app is free, and provides a range of workouts geared toward women, including strength-focused and cardio-focused routines, as well as stretches and meditations.

Don’t hesitate to do extensive research on the mission and values of each app’s parent company, whether or not the app content was developed by women for women, and whether or not the apps have hidden fees to access additional resources.

Each app will have its own benefits and failings. Always check the reviews and focus on reviews written by women to get as much information as possible before you select an app to help you track your diet, exercise routines, menstrual cycles, and other health information.

Always review the privacy policy in-detail before agreeing to input personal data into an app.

Are there exercises women should not do?

The exercises that you should and should not do depend on your personal health and fitness levels, and on whether you have any underlying health conditions that make certain exercises dangerous or painful for you.

If you have an underlying health conditions like osteoporosis or heart disease or other risk factors for developing serious medical conditions, you will need to consult with your healthcare provider before you begin any new exercise routines.

Talk to your practitioner about the exercises and intensity levels that are best for you that won’t cause damage or unnecessary pain or discomfort.

As you begin any new exercise routine, you should track any symptoms you may notice.

  • Do you have extreme shortness of breath when you jog? Try walking instead – does that improve things?
  • Do you have extreme shortness of breath while walking? Make sure you’re not moving uphill – find a flat, paved trail instead while you build up your endurance.
  • Do you have joint pain after walking or running? If so, consider low impact exercises like swimming.
  • Do you notice that you sleep better when you have exercised? Do you notice instead that you’re having more trouble falling asleep? Try doing exercise earlier in the day, not in the evening before bed.

There are many ways that you may have to adjust your exercise routine to suit your needs.

And, in the meantime, there are many ways in which you can improve your overall body health by tuning into your own physical needs.

Reduce symptoms that are holding you back from exercise

Beginning an exercise routine can come with some general discomfort (new aches and pains while you adjust to new exercise levels, perspiration, etc).

Beyond general discomfort, however, there may be underlying nutrition deficiencies that may be holding you back from getting the most out of an exercise routine.

Beyond exercise: what you should consider for a healthy lifestyle

  • Check-in on your daily eating habits. Is your diet full of nutrients and proteins that help you maintain energy levels and boost endurance?
  • Do you have underlying deficiencies and should you be taking supplements to address these?
  • Do you know about, and are you experiencing, the changes that come through the stages of menopause? Understanding your body’s cycles and limitations will help you find a routine that is both comfortable and beneficial.

If you believe that you are experiencing a nutrient deficiency, you should speak to your healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine whether diet and/or supplements will help to get you back on track.

We’re in this together: women’s health by women, for women

Revivele is a company created by a woman for women, with women’s health in mind.

Explore how our Essentials supplements were created to benefit women’s brain health and perimenopausal symptoms as we age to increase women’s comfort, and decrease the risk of developing serious diseases, exacerbated by the symptoms of perimenopause.

To reduce inflammation, improve brain function, reduce sleep disturbance, and repopulate the gut microbiome, we created the Essentials line of women’s supplements.

Also for you:

  • Take your health into your own hands: Learn what you need to know about women’s health through Dr. Desai’s book: Lady Parts: Putting Women’s Health Back Into Women’s Hands. You’re not alone as you experience the changes of menopause – and you’re not going crazy, even if your symptoms and society make you feel like it. Tune in to your body by buying this book and learn what you’ve never been taught about women’s health and wellness.
  • See our other resources: Visit our blog page to read all the articles we’ve written just for you to tell you what we know about the aging process experienced by women, common concerns, helpful tips, ways to reduce and combat symptoms, and more.
  • Follow us: Learn more about women’s health and wellness and understand the benefits of women’s health supplements created by Dr. Kavita Desai. Follow Revivele on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to get all the latest news on your favourite platforms.

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