Reaching menopause can make some women reconsider the limits of their physical endurance and strength. But have their abilities decreased? Or are women not being stretched to reach their physical potential? Some women who are nearing or who have gone through menopause are determining their physical limits through participating in exercise boot camps.
Rose, who is now 61 years old, went through menopause about 10 years ago. She started participating in a boot camp in 2009. "I have always battled my weight and for the last 25-30 years I have tried to exercise in one way or another, in a gym, jogging or walking and now boot camp," she explained. "I find now that I am unable to jog because of my hip and knee. I am not able to do ‘bouncing exercises’ very well, but can hold my own with most of the other exercises we do in boot camp and I am with many women who are the ages of my children (mid-to-late 20’s)."
Sharon, who is in her 50s and no longer participates in a boot camp, believes that women who are interested in joining boot camp should have some recent experience working out. "I think everyone should be able to keep up to a certain degree," she said. "In my last boot camp, three women were over 45, overweight and out of shape. They could not do a lot of the exercises and they dropped out after two weeks. Naturally, we all slow down as we get older, but I think consistency and intensity are the major factors in how much someone can do at any age."
Sondra, who at 45 hasn’t reached menopause yet, said, "I’ve heard some women describe how aging has made them less able to do physical exercise." She admits that aging has made physical exercise much more challenging. "It never took this much effort before and I tire easily and sometimes get really discouraged. I love boot camp because it’s such an incredible challenge for me," Sondra explained. "I am using it as a way to prove to myself that I can do exactly what I did - and better - when I was 20. For example, I never ran a fast mile when I was young, even in my 20s. I can run a mile a lot faster now and never thought that would be a possibility. It’s a slow process that requires a lot of patience and persistence. Maybe I’ll hit a wall with actual menopause and reconsider my enthusiasm."
All of the women I visited with believe that exercise is one of the keys to the fountain of youth. "I know that I need to continue to keep doing some type of exercise from now on," Rose stressed. "I do not want to have to use a walker or wheelchair. I do not want to be an OLD old person. I do not mind aging gracefully, but do not want to be OLD. I do believe that exercising is a way to prevent that, along with diet, which I have yet to conquer."
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.