Inside Out – Mastering Menopause

by Shelley Dumais, Active Balance Physiotherapy Studio –

Are you dreading your early 50s, and beyond? It is said that in menopause you might experience hot flashes, mood changes, insomnia or achiness; gain weight (especially belly fat); lose bone density; leak urine when you cough or sneeze; and have a greater risk of heart disease.

Even though females make up 50% of the population, there is little scientific research on them. Dr. Stacy Sims advocates that “women are not small men,” and she is passionate about researching females in all stages of their lives. The good news is that there are things you can do to keep yourself healthy, fit and strong as you enter this next phase of your life.

Hydrate and Eat Quality Food at the Right Time
It’s important to drink water and eat healthy and get enough calories, protein, carbohydrates (especially fibre) and fats to support our daily activities and recovery from exercise. Carbohydrates are necessary to give you the fuel for your activities and are the preferred fuel source for our brain. The fiber in carbohydrates helps to keep our bowels regular and cholesterol low. Healthy carbohydrates include fruit, berries, grains, vegetables, beans and lentils. For muscle recovery, it is important to have enough protein in your diet and make sure you eat adequate protein within 30 minutes of exercise. Protein sources include Greek yogurt, protein powder, fish, tofu, poultry, pork, beef, lentils and beans. It is also important to eat healthy fats, including vegetable oils, avocado, nuts, seeds, omega-3 oils, and eggs.

Exercise Smarter With Sprint Intervals
High intensity sprint interval training is powerful medicine for an aging female. This type of training is very different from the “max cardio with low calorie” training era which left us constantly tired, hungry and disappointed with our lack of weight loss. These high intensity sprint intervals are bursts of 30 seconds or less and they help to reduce anxiety, increase lean muscle, improve cardiovascular fitness and help you sleep. This trains your fast twitch muscle fibres, increases your energy mitochondria, and helps your body burn more fat for energy when you are not exercising.

Breathe Deep and Pay Attention to Your Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is the layer of muscles located at the base of the pelvis that helps control urinary, bowel and sexual organ function as well as core stability. Your diaphragm (your breathing muscle) and your deep abdominal and back muscles make up your inner core and are important for stabilizing your back, posture, and enhancing your performance in activities. Did you know that it is possible for your pelvic floor muscles to be too tight? It is not always a case of needing to do more kegels!

Lift Heavy
Research shows that heavy weight lifting three times a week is beneficial, giving us increased strength and reduced body fat as well as benefits such as improved posture and a better chance of improving bone strength. Of course heavy is relative, and each of us needs to start with an assessment to determine what weights to start with to be safe!

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