Pilates for Menopause & BeyondAug 08, 2021
Menopause is a subject that unfortunately even in this day and age is still shrouded in secrecy and to some degree, shame. This taboo subject often gets ignored, pushed aside or dismissed leaving many women without the essential information they need to thrive and flourish throughout this stage of their lives. In general, society expects women to hold everything together both in their family or personal lives as well as in the workplace and menopausal women tend to suffer in silence and "get on with it." The majority of my clients are either perimenopausal, menopausal or postmenopausal women and Pilates is ideal for providing so many physical and mental benefits to ensure they are able to exercise effectively and appropriately during this time and beyond.
What is Menopause?
Menopause can be defined as the stage in a woman's life where menstruation ceases and she has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. Usually occurring between the ages of approximately 45 years to 55 years with an average of around 51 years, this natural biological process can result in more than 30 challenging symptoms. Not all women experience these symptoms but as hormone levels decline some of the most common symptoms experienced are difficulty sleeping, hot flashes, night sweats and cognitive changes such as brain fog. Hormone Replacement Therapy is a treatment option that is suitable for some women. Others may find relief with natural supplements while modalities such as acupuncture can also be enormously beneficial for relieving the symptoms as well. It's very much an individual choice and a matter of finding what works best for you personally. The drop in oestrogen levels means that there is a loss of bone density which can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis. It can also cause muscle and joint pain leading to stiffness which sometimes results in injury. The symptoms of menopause can last anything from 1 year to 10 years after menstruation has ceased and this varies greatly for each woman. So let's look at how Pilates can directly help women to maintain their health and fitness through this important stage of life.
Building Healthy Bones With Pilates
Bone is living tissue and during the first 5 years after menopause, women are at risk of losing around 10 percent of their bone mass due to the drop in oestrogen levels. This will continue to decline as you age unless you take active steps to combat this. In order to avoid osteopenia and osteoporosis, which can leave you susceptible to fracture, it's vital to include weight-bearing, resistance and strength training in your exercise program. My unique online Pilates program can be tailored to your individual needs to ensure your exercise sessions are as effective as possible for building and maintaining your bone density. I've helped hundreds of women at all stages of life over the past 16 years to improve their bone health. It doesn't matter whether you are completely new to movement and exercise or already very active and enjoy several sports, I can design a program specifically for your needs. It's far better to prepare for this potential loss of bone density several years before you reach menopause in order to maintain your bone health but if that wasn't possible for you it's never too late to start improving it. Our sense of balance is also something that declines with age but I'm passionate about including this in all my clients' programs because of the many benefits. Good balance reduces the risk of a fall which could result in a bone fracture so it really is essential for good health.
Strengthen Your Muscles & Improve Joint Mobility
Oestrogen is also anti-inflammatory so when the levels drop during menopause joints are more susceptible to painful, inflammatory conditions. There is also a reduction in collagen production which is necessary for maintaining the strength of tendons. This means you may be more prone to injury during and after menopause and old injuries that may have been dormant can flare up again. Movement is the solution but it's important that you don't overload the joints but focus on strengthening the core and other muscles as efficiently as possible to support the joints at this vulnerable time. Pilates is also very low impact and helps to improve and maintain the range of movement of joints which can assist to reduce pain. Again, my unique online PIlates program can be tailored to your individual needs depending on your level of pain at each particular session, which is just another of the many ways that Pilates is ideal during menopause.
Reduce Anxiety & Restore Calm
The hormonal changes combined with other symptoms such as sleep disturbances can understandably lead to anxiety, irritability and mood swings. Many of my clients have found the breathing techniques required in Pilates to be extremely beneficial for helping to restore calm during this time. Pilates is often referred to as "moving meditation" because the combination of slow controlled movements with a conscious breathing pattern stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system which promotes a state of calm. One of my previous blog posts "Breathe & Stay Calm" provides more detail about the benefits of breathing in Pilates. It also provides some simple but highly effective breathing exercises you can use straight away for relaxation. When you make Pilates a regular practice the benefits for both your mind and body are invaluable. Dedicating that time to focus solely on yourself and your wellbeing is also highly beneficial. Pilates is as much a mental workout as it is physical and this also contributes to the meditative effect.
As you can see Pilates really is ideal for women who are going through perimenopause and menopause and then right through to their retirement years. Your Pilates program should incorporate all the elements that you need to ensure you maintain good muscle strength, healthy dense bones, good balance and a calm, clear mind. Sounds perfect for staying healthy to enjoy all that life has to offer! The other major benefit is that your Pilates program can be adapted to your individual needs as they change along the way. If you have any questions about how Pilates can help you take control of your own health and fitness during perimenopause, menopause or beyond email me at [email protected] . Alternatively, if you would like to begin your online Pilates journey book your in-depth Initial Assessment with me via Skype. It would be my pleasure to assist you on your Pilates journey!
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Learn more about what sort of people benefit from Pilates and how it can help you too. I separate the myths from the facts and share actual case studies of my clients who have achieved life-changing results from my unique Pilates program.