Exercises that Help Menopausal Symptoms

Published 12/11/12


How exercise can help you cope with challenging menopausal symptoms.


Hi. I'm P.J. Hamel, and I went through early menopause as a breast cancer survivor. I'm here today to tell you how exercise can help you cope with those challenging menopause symptoms. Menopause robs you of the chief female sex hormone, estrogen, which has been your life-long fountain of youth. Estrogen has kept your bones healthy, your skin and hair youthful, and your muscles flexible. Without plenty of estrogen you suddenly seem to age quickly. But exercise can not only keep you healthy, it can help fight those symptoms of aging in many different ways.One of menopause's most devastating debilitating side effects is emotional rather than physical. You may find yourself subject to wild mood swings, fine one moment and in deepest despair the next. You also may feel angry and lash out at family and friends.Exercise releases endorphins into your bloodstream. Nicknamed the "feel-good" hormone, endorphins smooth out your emotions and help you feel positive about life again. And exercising in the company of other women is always a plus. Studies have shown that those who exercise in groups are happier than those who exercise alone.The most common side effect of menopause is hot flashes. Many women experience multiple hot flashes each day, and they can really affect your life, leaving you drenched in sweat one moment and shivering the next. Unfortunately, there's no surefire cure for hot flashes, aside from sticking your head in the freezer. Some women report that exercise lessens the number of hot flashes they have, while others say that becoming overheated during exercise actually makes the hot flashes worse. Your best bet is to identify anything that reduces your hot flashes, be it exercise, diet, or even medication, and then stick to it.One of the main health issues associated with the reduction of estrogen during menopause is lower bone density. Estrogen has helped keep our bones strong and healthy for years, and its absence is bad news for our bones. Exercise is key to keeping bones healthy after menopause, but all exercise isn't created equal. For best bone health choose a weight-bearing exercise like weight-lifting or jogging, or exercise that includes fast action, like tennis, basketball, soccer, or even dancing. The more of a work-out your bones get, the more likely you are to avoid osteoporosis.Another challenging side effect of menopause is weight gain. Your metabolism slows down, you feel tired, and you become more sedentary, and before you know it you've gained 20 pounds. There's no easy way to lose those sudden pounds or to keep them off. A slow metabolism is your new normal. But exercise burns calories, and that's exactly what you need to do to lose weight. A brisk walk, an aerobics class, bicycling, skiing, anything that gets your heart rate up is increasing the number of calories you burn. So watch what you eat and step lively. You'll be glad you did.And that's how I see it as a breast cancer survivor who went through early menopause. But I'd also like to recommend you reach out to your doctor for more details, or go to Google and type in "all about hot flashes" for more information. Thanks for watching.

Show Full Transcript