Spotlight on: Menopause and Movement
Every woman’s experience of perimenopause and menopause is different, but evidence shows that physical activity can help women manage and cope better with their symptoms.
Our Spotlight on: Menopause and Movement looks at some of the common signs and symptoms of menopause, the benefits of movement and keeping active and some useful resources that offer support for women going through this key life stage. We hope you find the information of interest.
Perimenopause vs Menopause
Perimenopause is the transition leading up to the time before your periods stop, when you may have symptoms. There’s a variation how long this can take, but the average is 4 years. Normally, your GP can confirm a diagnosis of perimenopause based on your symptoms, but sometimes a blood test may be used, particularly if you are under 45 years.
Sometimes, women may experience early menopause. This is when your periods stop before the age of 45. If this happens before age 40 then this is known as ‘primary ovarian insufficiency’ (POI). Often the cause is unknown, but it can be related to genetic or autoimmune conditions, some cancer treatments (chemotherapy or radiotherapy) or surgical removal of the ovaries. It is more common in women who have a strong family history of POI.
Menopause refers to the day after which you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. This is due to a reduction in hormone levels (oestrogen and progesterone) as your ovaries stop producing eggs. The average age is 51 in the UK, but it can start much earlier, or much later than this.
Postmenopause is the time after your periods have stopped for 12 months.
Symptoms of Menopause
Around 8 in 10 women experience menopause symptoms and they last an average of four years. Menopause typically occurs between ages 45-55 and this is an age group that is also particularly inactive, with 36% of those aged 45-54 not reaching Chief Medical Officers guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.
Menopause can make women more at risk of osteoporosis (weakened bones) due to reduced levels of oestrogen as well as contribute to other conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Regular exercise can help prevent or manage these conditions, improving health and wellbeing in a number of ways.
Reduced levels of oestrogen in the body can cause most menopausal symptoms.
Every woman’s experience of perimenopause and menopause is different, but some common symptoms include:
Hot flushes - Irregular periods
Changes to your mood (Brain fog)
Problems with memory or concentration
Difficulty sleeping - Heart palpitations
Headaches and migraines - Skin Changes
Changed body shape - Weight gain - Vaginal dryness and pain
Move to improve menopause
Evidence shows that being active through the perimenopause and menopause can help women manage and cope better with their symptoms. Keeping active and moving more can help:
- Improve sleep and feel less tired.
- Regulate weight.
- Reduce the risk of anxiety and depression.
- Improve muscle tone and decrease body fat.
- Alleviate joint pain.
The Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) guidelines for physical activity in adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity per week. Moderate intensity means your heart rate increases but you can still hold a conversation. Also aim for strength and balance exercise on 2 days a week.
To start with, be realistic with your activity goals. Making a simple plan and try to stick to it. The challenge is to go back to your plan, even if you fall off it for a few days due to unavoidable circumstances. Perhaps recruit a friend or relative to help keep you motivated and accountable during this time?
Try including weight-bearing activities where your feet and legs support your weight like walking, running or dancing.
Everyday Active offers hints, tips and activity ideas for moving more through the menopause. We’re sure you’ll find something to enjoy that’ll help you move more through every stage of your life.
British Menopause Society
The British Menopause Society (BMS) is the specialist authority for menopause and post reproductive health in the UK. Established in 1989, the BMS educates, informs and guides healthcare professionals, working in both primary and secondary care, on menopause and all aspects of post reproductive health.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
The NICE guideline covers the diagnosis and management of menopause, including in women who have premature ovarian insufficiency. The guideline aims to improve the consistency of support and information provided to women in menopause.
Moving Medicine is a comprehensive resource designed to help healthcare professionals integrate physical activity conversations into routine clinical care. They’ve launched a new resource to help healthcare professionals have better conversations about physical activity with people experiencing menopause.
An award winning, independent website providing up-to-date, accurate information about the menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment options. Here you will find information on what happens leading up to, during and after the menopause, what the consequences can be, what you can do to help and what treatments are available.
At a Menopause Café people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss menopause. Menopause Cafés are offered in an accessible, respectful and confidential space; open for all, regardless of gender or age; have no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action; are on a not for profit basis.
Menopause is inevitable for all females, it’s a time when many struggle to stay playing, coaching or officiating netball. Netball can help midlife women to navigate their symptoms, be healthy and strong – when done in the right way.
If you’d like to discuss any of the above articles or would like any further information on keeping active through the menopause, please get in touch with Elise Rendall, our Physical Activity Manager via email email@example.com.