I was a cardio junkie for many years and loved it. I continued to work out the same way (triathlon training, high intensity cardio workouts and just a little bit of strength training – 10 pound dumbbells during the triathlon off season) and as I got a little older and perimenopause and menopause hit, I wondered why I was gaining weight, experiencing body aches, and not getting the results that I used to get, even though I was still working out just as hard.  I discovered “real” strength training and sprint interval training, and it has been the game changer for me and my physical fitness.

WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?

According to the National Institute on Aging, “The menopausal transition affects each woman uniquely and in various ways. The body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change, and women may gain weight more easily. You may experience changes in your bone or heart health, your body shape and composition, or your physical function.”

Some of the changes in our bodies as we start the process of going through menopause:

  • Decreased estrogen
  • Increased inflammation
  • Increased visceral fat
  • Decreased bone mass density
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Decreased strength

YIKES!!  While this all sounds very daunting, there is a better way to workout that will not increase inflammation, help build muscle, and improve bone density.

STRENGTH TRAINING

First, and probably the most the IMPORTANT thing to do, is lift weights. You should be using a weight that you can only do 5-8 repetitions of each exercise for 3-5 rounds.  You want to think about doing more compound exercises – squats, deadlifts, bench press, and rows.  You should strength train 2-3 times a week.

Some benefits of lifting heavy weights:

  • Increased metabolism
  • Increased bone density
  • Improved overall health
  • Decreased joint pain
  • Improved mood

SPRINT INTERVAL TRAINING(SIT)

If you are feeling like you need some cardio though, there is a better way to do cardio than the long slower workouts, like a run.  Sprint Interval Training (SIT).  According to Dr. Stacy Sims, an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist, “The best type of high-intensity interval training for menopausal women is super short, sharp sprint-style intervals lasting about 30 seconds or less. When you extend intervals past 60 seconds, you can get greater increases in the stress hormone cortisol.” It is a short burst of work at an all-out pace where you go as hard as you can go for a short period of time and then have a short recovery and do it again.  This type of workout is no more than 12-15 minutes total.  After a maximum effort SIT workout, your body continues to burn fat after the workout.  You should do a SIT workout 1-2 times a week.

Some of the benefits of Sprint Interval Training:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased lean muscle mass
  • Decreased fat mass
  • Burning more fat for energy when not exercising

RECOVERY

After our strength training and SIT workouts, we cannot forget some recovery.  Make sure to get some sort of rolling, stretching, and mobility work in.

YOUR FIT PRESCRIPTION THROUGH MENOPAUSE

Strength training and sprint interval training are the ways that we need to workout once we enter menopause.  I would love to help you with your FIT prescription! Book an appointment here.

 

Tammy Thomson, CPT, CHC