Why is exercise important for menopausal women?
Women go through so many hormonal changes in their life and staying positive and living a healthy, active lifestyle can help them cope better with the changes, both physically and mentally.
What specific issues will exercise address?
A healthy, active lifestyle as you age can help counter ageing effects such as muscle loss, decreased bone density and decreased joint mobility. Bone loss during menopause is always a concern, so following a balanced plan which includes moderate impact exercises can help. As hormones change, many women also find that they gain weight. Being active, combined with healthy nutrition can help with weight loss and weight maintenance. Many people believe that as we age, our need for activity diminishes but, the older we become, the more focused we must be on staying active so that we can have good overall health.
What are the other benefits?
The benefits of being active go far beyond the physical. Exercising releases endorphins that make you feel good; sweating and improved circulation give your skin a youthful post exercise glow and although we can’t stop the ageing process, building lean muscle mass and promoting bone density can help counteract nature’s plan. Exercise is wonderful for all stages of life but especially during a period when women need a confidence boost and some stress relief.
Can exercise reduce menopausal symptoms?
I believe that exercise can reduce stress and feelings of anxiety as well as combat the feeling of being tired which often accompanies menopause. Exercise can help you to feel energised, positive and in control.
How often should they exercise?
How much exercise you need depends on your overall goal. For weight-loss and general health, 150 minutes (or about 30 minutes, five times a week) of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week may be enough. Although a workout time of 30 minutes is adequate, I believe it’s best to schedule for a slightly longer duration of approximately 50-60 minutes each day. Allocating an extra 20-30 minutes will allow adequate time for a warm up and cool down as well as time to write in an exercise journal or prepare a healthy post exercise snack. Exercise produces the best results when you are consistent in your routine. It should be part of an overall wellness strategy to improve your life. Thus, your activity plans should not be something that stresses you out. It’s counter-productive if you have to rush off right after your exercise routine because it somehow spoils the stress relieving effects.
Why is strength training important for menopausal women?
As part of the ageing process and the hormonal changes that take place, women naturally lose muscle mass which can negatively affect their metabolism, how they feel and how they look. Whether you are trying to lose or gain weight or maintain your current body composition, strength training can help you to achieve your body-focused goals while improving the way you feel. The benefits of strength training include weight loss, increased lean body mass and improved strength as the training adaptations that happen in the body as a result of strength training can greatly enhance the activities of daily living, such as lifting, standing, walking and enjoying simple activities. If you love to play sports, strength training can also help you to improve your overall performance. Training for strength does not have to mean lifting weights. You can do body weight exercises, use resistance bands or objects around the house, such as water bottles.
Should yoga and meditation be included in the fitness routine?Meditation is an ancient practice associated with health benefits; exercising your mind is just as important as exercising your body. Meditation is a great way to regain your focus, calm your mind and, at the same time, avoid the pitfalls that come with reaching for the cookie jar when stressed. Complementing meditation with yoga may help you develop mental strength, flexibility and physical strength. Whatever your needs or fitness goals, there are styles of yoga that will suit you.
What about dietary changes?
Our daily nutrition choices are important, not only for controlling our weight but for being and feeling our best. Nutrient-dense foods packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, can enhance our overall sense of wellbeing. Calcium is important for bone health, protein essential for healthy muscles, and consuming healthy fats is also important. During times of major changes within the body, it’s best to make small daily changes instead of one big jump. It’s about being a little more mindful of what we are putting into our body each day. Hydration is also crucial because of all the sweating that menopausal women experience, so one must replenish lost fluids.
Train Smart. Eat Well. Feel Great !
Why is Exercise Important for Menopausal Women? June 29, 2016
Why is exercise important for menopausal women?
Forget Cholesterol! April 12, 2016
Inflammation’s the Real Enemy
Keeping up with which foods to eat and which ones to avoid could be a full-time job. That’s because scientists continue to learn more about what we put in our bodies.
Some of their latest findings could change your mind about fat.
Twenty years ago, doctors told us to stay away from high-fat foods like eggs, bacon, and butter because they raised cholesterol and could lead to heart disease.
America responded and stopped eating fat. In its place, however, we ate more sugar and other carbohydrates.
How did that work out? Not great. As a whole, Americans grew fatter and sicker than before. Scientists back then may have reached the wrong conclusion.
Now a growing number of medical experts say weight gain, heart disease, and other illnesses are not caused by high cholesterol, but by something different: inflammation.
That means instead of avoiding foods that raise our cholesterol, we need to avoid foods that cause inflammation.
Cholesterol’s Bad Rap
Dr. Beverly Teter, a lipid biochemist at the University of Maryland, studies how the different kinds of fat in food affect our health.
Teter said scientists wrongly blamed cholesterol for heart disease when they saw high levels of it at a damaged blood vessel. Teter believes the body put the cholesterol there to fix the problem, which was actually caused by inflammation.
“It’s the inflammation in the vessels that start the lesion,” she explained. “The body then sends the cholesterol like a scab to cover over it to protect the blood system and the vessel wall from further damage.”
Research also shows cholesterol can protect against respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, and helps create vitamin D. People with higher cholesterol live longer.
Teter said that’s a scientific fact that she can vouch for personally.
“I come from a family that has, my mother’s side, had naturally high cholesterol. Her cholesterol was between 380 and 420 when I started watching her medical records, and she died at 97,” she said. “So I don’t think that cholesterol was too bad for her.”
Cholesterol is especially important in the brain, which contains more cholesterol than any other organ and needs it in order for a message to get passed from one brain cell to another.
Therefore, Teter said when it comes to food choices, don’t worry if it raises your cholesterol. Focus your attention instead on whether it reduces inflammation.
When choosing which fats to eat, pick the ones that are high in Omega 3 fats and also choose natural saturated fats. On the other hand, stay away from the fats that lead to inflammation, such as trans fats and Omega 6 fats.
How to you tell the healthy Omega 3s from the unhealthy Omega 6 fats? Vegetable oils and mayonnaise contain Omega 6 fats, so be careful with how much you consume.
Ideally, Omega 6 fats are healthy but only when consumed in the same amount as Omega 3 fats. The typical American, however, consumes 15 times more Omega 6 fats than Omega 3s. This imbalance creates inflammation.
So cut back on the Omega 6s and increase your consumption of Omega 3s. These are in foods like olive oil and avocados.
Cold water fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 fat, particularly DHA, which is a super brain booster. One great way to make sure you’re getting enough Omega 3, specifically DHA, is by taking a fish oil supplement. Doctors recommend one that contains at least 750 mg of DHA daily.
Butter is Better
At one time dieticians considered margarine, which is a trans fat, heart healthy. Doctors now say a better choice is butter.
In the last 20 years, trans fats have become the ingredient of choice for almost all processed foods. You can tell something contains trans fat if you see the word “hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients.
Saturated fats have really gotten a bad reputation over the last couple of decades. But they are not as bad as they have been made out to be. In fact, doctors recommend eating some saturated fats every day, such as coconut oil.
This saturated fat fights colds and the flu and has even reversed the symptoms of Alzheimers, ALS and Parkinson’s Disease in some people.
Say ‘No’ to Inflammation
You should also remember those non-fat foods that make us fat and increase inflammation contain sugar and refined carbohydrates. Anything containing high fructose corn syrup or other sugars leads to inflammation.
So do grains, especially refined grains such as white bread, pasta, rice, and so on.
So when it comes to your health, inflammation beats out cholesterol as the new enemy. Take it on by saying “yes” to foods like fish and coconut oil, and “no” to sugar and carbohydrates, and dangerous trans fats.
*Originally aired February 1, 2013.
Armchair Athlete? November 12, 2015
Adapted from an article ….
Sports Performance Bulletin
Issue No. 225, November 9, 2015
Maintaining muscle mass, good quality sleep and eating protein IS key!
Tips for the Ageing (armchair) Athlete
Editor, Sports Performance Bulletin
Tips for the ageing athlete
One of the reasons I love working in sport is that you are constantly surrounded by young people and their questionable fashion, language and music! I firmly believe that you’re only as old as you want to be, and that there’s a marked difference between being aged and being old.
Age is something that happens due to the inexorable passing of time, and there are certain strategies that we can implement to ensure that we lessen the decay that Father Time wants to impart.
Firstly, a decline in muscle power doesn’t just creep up. It hits you square in the face. A fall that leads to a fractured hip is one of the biggest causes of so-called age-related hospital admissions in the Western World. We know, that a huge part of this stems back to poor muscle strength and power.
So, is there anything we can do about this? Of course there is!
You are never too old to lift heavy things! Sure, there may be a decline in what you can lift when you’re 80 compared to when you’re 35, but there is stacks of scientific research that has been done that demonstrates that even 90 year-olds can gain both muscle size and strength following a targeted strength programme.
The most effective exercises are the ones that you do, so, in other words, any exercise that has an overload demand attached to it will develop strength. Should we teach a 60 year old to power clean if they’ve never done it before? Possibly not, because this complex lift is as much about skill as it is about strength, but if the 60 year old is well trained in its technique, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t continue to lift in this manner.
Often, the time it takes to recover following a strength session is longer as we get older. This needs to be taken into account when planning training, in particular taking care to space out plyometric work, even for the masters athlete that is well attuned to this activity.
In terms of nutrition, there is now plenty of evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of a diet high in protein being especially important for the mature athlete, to counteract the sarcopaenia (muscle fibre loss) that coincides with increasing number of candles on the birthday cake.
Interesting…. I know what he means. I’ve been teaching multiple fitness classes most days since 1983, some days it feels like 1883!
Maintaining muscle mass, good quality sleep and eating protein IS key!
Top Tips For Ageing Well April 29, 2015
An Australian article – a good read…
News we’re living longer is heartening to many of us. But the idea our extra years might not all be healthy is a sobering reality.
The great news is there’s much you can do to enhance your complete physical, mental and social wellbeing in later life, says the University of Melbourne’s Associate Professor Briony Dow, who is also director of health promotion for the National Ageing Research Institute.
“You’re ageing from the moment you’re born really,” Dow says. “Ageing healthily is not different from healthy living I guess. It’s just we’ve looked at it from the perspective of older people.”
Making certain lifestyle choices can reduce your chance of needing residential care or going to hospital. It can also help you feel safe and secure and ensure you are an active participant in life, rather than an observer on the side lines. To the extent you can control your destiny, “you’re wise if you do,” she says.
Here are Professor Dow’s top tips to maximise your chances of ageing well.
1. Keep physically active
This means aiming for at least a good half hour to an hour of moderate intensity physical activity every day, where you’re working hard enough to get a bit puffed but you can still talk. (Australian exercise guidelines also state you can settle for clocking up roughly half that amount of activity if you exercise more vigorously, where you are so puffed you can barely talk.)
This reduces your risk of a wide range of diseases but especially heart disease, our biggest killer. It can also help mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
It doesn’t have to be formal exercise: gardening, housework or walking to the shops all count. Some stretching exercises or yoga are also important for flexibility “so you can keep doing what you want to do,” Dow says. And it’s good to include some strength training, such as exercising with weights to help control weight and keep your bones strong.
“Physical activity is the most important thing, although it’s a toss up between that and giving up smoking if you’re a smoker.”
2. Don’t smoke
“If you’re a smoker, you need to stop smoking and the message is it’s never too late to do it,” Dow says.
“If you give up smoking in middle age, you’ll improve your life expectancy by 10 years. Or another way to put that is your life expectancy is reduced by 10 years if you keep smoking. But it’s not just about life expectancy. Smoking is a risk factor for all the chronic diseases, including the ones that affect your brain [Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia].”
3. Be socially active
“This is really important for both your physical health and mental health,” says Dow. “If you’re socially isolated, it’s equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
Some evidence suggests loneliness can increase your risk of premature death by as much as 30 per cent.
It may be that increased stress hormones increase the risk of heart disease, but social activity is also likely to be a form of mental stimulation that’s good for ageing brains.
Says Maree Farrow, a neuroscientist and research fellow with Alzheimer’s Australia, being socially active means “you have to think about what you’re saying and understand what [someone else] is saying. You have to understand facial expressions and body language. Lots of different parts of your brain are working.”
Social isolation can happen even when other people around, Dow points out. It’s having a real sense of connect to others that’s thought to be important.
4. Eat well and limit the booze
Eating well has a significant role to play in warding off chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.
There’s no magic food that’s going to keep your brain healthy, says Farrow but eating a varied and balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables seem to be particularly important.
5. Keep your brain active
“We know from lots of research that people who do more stimulating activities throughout their life have better brain function and a lower chance of developing dementia,” says Farrow.
While there has been much emphasis on crosswords and sudoku puzzles to boost your brain, other activities you could do include taking up a second language, pursuing a course of study, reading widely or learning a musical instrument.
The research suggests it’s challenging the brain so it’s learning something new or different is what matters most.
But Dow says the publicity over the role of mental stimulation has suggested there is stronger evidence for a protective effect than there really is.
“We don’t have nearly as strong evidence as you would think from all that you read,” she says, adding that there’s more evidence exercise is important. Nonetheless, it seems to be helpful and certainly won’t hurt.
6. Have an optimistic outlook
Are you a glass half empty or glass half full person? The evidence the latter might help you fare better as you age comes from talking to older people who feel they’re doing well and asking them what they think has helped, Dow says.
As well, research has found optimists are more willing to adapt and actively participate in seeking solutions to problems and because they feel less hopelessness, they have less stress and depression. Positive people are also more likely to engage in behaviours that keep them physically healthy like eating well and exercising.
While personality type and life experiences can influence your tendency to be optimistic, you can also take matters into your own hands. “I think you can control it to some extent,” Dow says. “I think you can manage your life so you’ve always got something that is exciting for you and can keep you upbeat.”