Pre and Post- Menopausal Symptom Management and Prevention Program
What is menopause?
The term menopause refers to the end of a woman’s reproductive life, whereby the woman experiences her final menstrual period. When this occurs, eggs are no longer produced by the ovary, and there is cessation of oestrogen and progesterone production. Once a woman has had no period for 12 consecutive months, she is considered to be post-menopausal. This commonly occurs between the ages 45 and 55. This can occur earlier (40-45 years) in some women due to natural ovarian function ceasing, surgical removal of the ovaries or as a result of cancer treatments.
A woman is considered to be undergoing perimenopause (menopause transition) when she starts experiencing changes in her menstrual periods; such as, irregular periods, heavy or lighter bleeding, shorter or longer duration. Symptoms of this are due to fluctuations in the production of ovarian hormones and include hot flushes and night sweats, aches and pains, fatigue or irritability as well as premenstrual symptoms such as sore breasts and bloating. The onset and duration of menopausal symptoms varies for each individual, and there is no way to predict when this occurs. Perimenopause is considered the target zone to start physical activity or exercise regimes to combat the symptoms of menopause.
Physical symptoms of menopause
During menopause, women experience fluctuating and declining levels of ovarian hormones, particularly oestrogen. This causes symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, bodily aches and pains, dry skin, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, urinary frequency, and sleeping difficulties. Some women have unwanted hair growth, thinning of scalp and pubic hair, skin changes and increased bleeding gums.
Psychological symptoms of menopause
Changes in hormonal levels can contribute to mood changes, anxiety, irritability, forgetfulness, and trouble concentrating or making decisions. There is also the reduction in the level of serotonin, which is a chemical that regulates mood, emotions and sleep. A past history of depression and stress during the perimenopause phase may make a woman more likely to succumb to moodiness.
With increasing age, the risk of many common illnesses increases. Optimising your health during menopause may help to improve healthy physical and emotional health into older age. During this period of time, it is important to re-assess the lifestyle factors that will have an impact on healthy ageing. During menopause, the decrease in oestrogen affects the way that fat is deposited, thus leading to an increase in abdominal fat. This is a major risk factor for a variety of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. It is important to be aware of these changes and adjust food intake and exercise accordingly to prevent weight gain.
The effect of exercise on the symptoms of Menopause
Physical activity and exercise has extremely positive effects on both general health and quality of life. National guidelines state that an individual must participate in 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. This may include activities such as brisk walking, cycling or tennis. Women should incorporate three types of activities into a weekly fitness plan: aerobic exercise, flexibility training and strength training.
Aerobic activity includes activities such as jogging, brisk walking, cycling, dancing or martial arts. This is the best form of exercise for the cardiovascular system as it helps endurance but also helps to burn fat. Flexibility training may involve stretching or yoga and pilates and is beneficial in improving balance and muscle flexibility. Finally, strength training through the use of free weights helps to build muscle tone, endurance and helps to maintain bone density.
Amongst these benefits, exercise can also help to:
- Increase good (HDL) cholesterol levels
- Reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides and may reduce blood pressure
- Burn kilojoules, to lose or maintain weight more easily
- Increases endurance
- Improve muscle tone and coordination
- Reduce anxiety, depression and emotional stress
- Build a support group when done with friends
- Improve balance reducing the risk of falling and fracture
- Increase self-esteem and well-being
The loss of oestrogen after menopause will lead to an overall loss of bone density and increased fracture risk, thus predisposing women to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Hormone therapy may reduce the risk of bone loss but it is inherent that the individual continues with exercise and pays attention to dietary calcium intake through indigestion of foods such as milk, almonds and salmon.
Menopause and The Thrive Clinic
At The Exercise Therapist, we have developed a program that combines mindfulness practice, cognitive training and cardiovascular and strength training. Mindfulness-based interventions aimed at reducing psychological symptoms of distress, depression and enhancements of quality of life are increasingly applied and popular in a variety of settings. Current research behind high intensity interval training and the effects on dorsal fat deposits have been critical in the development of the exercise program for the symptoms of menopause. We use this, in combination with functional resistance training and objective measures such as Men-QOL to implement the most effective strategy to improve quality of life for patients who are, or have suffered from menopause.
The Thrive Clinic involves an 8 or 12 week program, where the client can choose between two or three sessions per week depending on the severity of their symptoms. Their program will aim to reduce the symptoms of menopause, and improve cardiovascular fitness and quality of life.
If you are interested in this program please contact the clinic on 9385 1430 or register your details in the contact form below.