Why it's never too late to take up running ...•
Posted on April 25 2019
Adding in some regular exercise to your weekly routine can be a great remedy for many of the symptoms of the menopause. It can help you to maintain a healthy weight, relieve stress and will generally improve your quality of life. With it being the London Marathon this weekend, why not let it inspire you to start running? Even if you’ve never run before, now might be a good time to take it up – it’s a fantastically free and easy way to get out into the fresh spring air, clear your mind and help your body all at the same time.
“But hang on”, you might say. “Just the thought of getting off the couch seems a big effort for me right now!” In our recent poll inside The Chilled Menopause, we asked you how you felt about taking on a challenge such as a marathon. Nearly half of you said that you would love to do something like it, but didn’t feel fit enough, or lacked the confidence to go for it. So here we bring you some encouragement and ideas to take the first steps … and who knows, maybe you’ll be signing up for next year’s marathon!
The benefits of running in the menopause. We do understand that if you feel tired and weighed down by your menopausal symptoms the last thing you probably feel like doing is exercising. And yet, falling oestrogen levels can reduce your muscle tone and bone density as well as impact on the health of your heart – all factors which can be improved by regular exercise. This is to say nothing of the fact that physical activity can help to keep your weight down at a time when you might be finding it harder to lose it.
Don’t try too much too soon. Whether you choose a slow jog, or just a quick run around the block, the key is to try to do it regularly, aiming for the NHS guidelines of 150 minutes a week (that’s five lots of half an hour). One great way to start running again is to alternate between running and walking – to the shops, up stairs and escalators, or take a regular lunchtime and/or evening jog or stroll. If you haven’t exercised for a while, or are worried about taking the plunge, make an appointment with your GP for a health check-up first. When you start exercising again after a break, make sure to increase the volume and intensity of your training slowly to give your body time to adapt to the new demands. Check out these running tips for beginners.
Getting ready. The idea of doing a ‘warm up’ (jogging on the spot, for example) is to get the heart pumping, preparing your body by increasing your blood flow through the muscles to lubricate the joints. This helps to reduce friction in the joints and increases elasticity in the muscles ready for your running session. What you wear can have an impact too. As well as a supportive bra and comfy trainers, make sure you dress in light clothing that will wick away moisture – our range of become vest tops, t-shirts and leggings are cool, comfortable and have the added benefit of Anti-Flush Technology™.
Cool down. It’s also a good idea to ‘cool down’ after you have exercised. This could consist of some slower movements, stretching the muscle groups that you have been using (e.g. in the legs), gradually winding down over a short time to get your heart rate back to normal. It can help to eliminate lactic acid that can build up in muscles during exercise and can prevent any nasty aches occurring over the following days.
Rest and recover. When your metabolism slows down, your body takes longer to renew and regenerate cells so make sure to give yourself some recovery time after every training session. Regular physical activity improves sleep overall, but if night sweats are still keeping you awake, try to stick to morning runs as evening exercise can raise your core temperature too close to bedtime. Keep your bedroom is as comfortable as possible – use light bedding, a fan and try one of our cooling night dresses.
Good for the mind. A gentle jog a few times a week can make a significant improvement to mood during the menopause. Exercise is proven to have a positive effect on relieving anxiety and depression because it helps the body to produce endorphins – ’feel-good’ chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural way to fight pain and stress, so running can improve your mood and help to make you feel more relaxed.
Add in body strengthening. Muscle mass and flexibility decrease with age but it is possible to slow this down through some extra strength training. Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi can all help to keep you supple and can also improve balance, strength and muscle tone. Weight training using dumbbells and/or resistance bands, is another way to build or maintain muscle strength. If you’d rather work out at home, why not invest in a couple of weights and a resistance band to use for a short session each day?
Join a running group. Just as the menopause experience is different for all women, so is the exercise we choose. Some of us prefer to do it in a group, keep it as a solitary pursuit or like to enlist the help of an exercise buddy. You know yourself and what is more likely to keep you motivated. Many towns have a local running club especially for beginners who take the group out on a weekly route – it’s a great way to get to know the local area, make some new friends and stay fit and healthy. Alternatively parkrun offers free weekly 5km runs that are easy to take part in.
We hope we’ve given you some idea of the benefits that taking up running can give and inspired you to find a way to build it into your regular routine. Let us know how you get on in the comments below.
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