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Soaked T-Shirts: Embracing the Change of Life

posted May 12, 2015, 8:14 AM by Walk Strong Calgary
As women, each of us will eventually experience it. Maybe you've been there, done that, soaked many T-shirts. A natural process of a woman's life cycle, menopause was once thought to be a hormone deficiency disease. In fact, just a decade or so ago, one study showed that around 53% of women still believed it to be a medical condition. 

The biology of menopause remains somewhat of a mystery, but we now know that it's something every woman can face without fear. Not that any of us will ever look forward to the process, mind you... ugh...   

Did you know that exercise has been shown to be very beneficial on many levels? 
In the perimenopause stage (hot flashes, irregular cycles, etc.), regular exercise can help you manage the symptoms - your hormone levels can fluctuate dramatically during this stage, and a regular exerciser will have more circulating estrogen in her bloodstream, which can compensate. Fewer night sweats and less frequent and/or severe hot flashes throughout the day have been reported - I'm all for that... how about you? 

Many believe that weight gain is an unavoidable part of the process, but this isn't necessarily the case. Your body does change - it changes where it distributes body fat, storing it in the abdominal area instead of the hips and thighs. This, too, is the result of hormonal changes in the body. Over time you can take on an apple shape instead of a pear shape - a known risk factor for heart disease. Consider lean body mass, which will decrease if you're not active, lowering resting metabolic rate - this will certainly result in weight gain. Exercise can definitely help. 

Bear in mind that every woman's body is different - each of us will go through menopause in our own way and our bodies will react differently. Keep your diet in mind as well - as your body adjusts to the changes, you may not be able to eat as much or the same things as you used to without packing on some pounds. Talk to a registered dietitian for nutritional advice - sometimes all you need to do is make some simple changes.

If you're in post-menopause (have not had a period for at least a year), exercise will keep your heart healthy. With lower levels of estrogen, your HDL cholesterol levels will drop, and the LDL will increase, so it's more important than ever to be in good health. Exercise will also help maintain strong bones - 
bone density decreases with lower estrogen, raising the risk of osteoporosis - estrogen actually
preserves more bone tissue than calcium. In fact, if you're pre-menopausal (between puberty and 
menopause), adopt regular physical activity that 
includes strength/resistance training as part of your lifestyle now and maintain it into your later years. This will help build up your bank of bone tissue among many other benefits. Strengthen your bones now and keep it up - you'll be glad you did.

The symptoms may be different for every woman, as may be their severity, but the process is inevitable. While it can be a difficult time,  I encourage you to embrace 'the change' by celebrating life - and the incredible woman you have become! 

Images courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nancy Ehle is a Certified Group Fitness Instructor through the American Council on Exercise as well as a Certified Walk Leader through Leslie Sansone's Walk Live program. She holds several other industry certifications including Health Coach and Sports Nutrition. Her zest for life and passion for health is evident in her bubbly personality and especially when leading Walk Live classes. Join Nancy on Facebook:  facebook.com/walkstrongcalgary
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