I found being diagnosed with early menopause came with very few positives but one powerful message did emerge -to take good care of my body and so should you.
Perimenopause is the stage leading up to menopause (12 consecutive months without a period). During this stage oestrogen begins to decline and a range of symptoms like irregular periods, hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, sleeping difficulties and weight gain begin. Not all women experience menopause in the same way, but what all women will have in common is the increased risk to heart and bone disease.
Regular exercise now has to be your new bestie. Developing a targeted exercise program will help counteract the falling oestrogen levels which cause stomach fat to accumulate, loss in bone and muscle mass, and the increase of risk of heart disease.
To help you, I have put together some of my favourite moves which tighten and tone common trouble spots for women and more importantly, strengthen bones, muscles and your heart. The following exercises are the best because they’re simple and very effective.
- Best lower body exercise – Squats
Squats strengthen the entire lower body, including the legs and glutes.
- Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Place the ball against the wall and stand your back against the ball (without a ball is just as effective)
- Lower yourself down by keep your weight on your heels (for additional challenge raise your heals and feel the burn!!)
- Continue squatting until your thighs are parallel to the floor (if you can’t do this initially just lower yourself as far as you can)
- Count for 30 seconds then slowly rise back up, pushing through your heels
- Repeat 4x sets.
- Best other thigh exercise – Forward lunges
This is another muscle burning exercise which shapes, tones your quads, hamstrings and glutes.
- Stand straight with your feet hip-width hold your weights down by sides with palms facing each other (no weights are just as effective)
- Lunge forward with your left leg so your heel hits the floor first
- Keep your knees aligned, front knee slightly over your shoe and back knee pointing down(back knee should come to about an inch above the ground without touching it)
- Pause for a moment then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as you can
- You can either do repetitions on the same leg before swapping or continuously alternate legs
- Best upper body exercise: Push-ups
Push-ups are great workout for the chest, shoulders and triceps muscles.
- Lie face down on the floor and bring hands out to your sides next to your chest, fingers pointed in front of you
- Come up onto the balls of your feet or knees if you need to modify the move (for added challenge use a seat to perform a decline push up)
- Keep your body in a straight line and abs engaged as you bend your elbows to lower your body and push back up
- Repeat for 15 reps for 3 sets.
- Best triceps exercise – Dips
Dips tighten and tone the backs of the arms.
- Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair or couch and place your hands behind you, palms down, fingers forward
- Keep feet flat on the floor and knees at a 45-degree angle
- Lift your upper body by straightening your arms and then lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the seat or floor, and then push back up
- For added challenge lift your toes
- Best core exercise – Plank
Plank is a fantastic core muscle workout which improves your ability to stabilise your spine as well as flatten your abs.
- Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms and the balls of your feet, elbows directly under your shoulders
- Your body should in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles
- Brace you core by contracting your abs as if you are about to be punched in the gut
- Do not allow your hips to hike up or sag
- Hold 30 to 60 seconds and breathe deeply. Repeat x 4
- Best abdominal exercise – Reverse Crunch
This abdominal exercise pulls in and helps tighten and tone lower abdominal muscles.
- Lie face up on the floor with your palms facing down
- Bend your hips and knees at 90 degrees
- While contracting your abdominals, raise hips off the floor and pull them inward
- Pause then slowly the slowly lower your legs until your heels nearly touch the floor
- Repeat without resting at the bottom.
- Best cardio: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This is my absolute favourite go-to fat burning exercise program. HIIT involves alternating bouts of high-intensity cardio with less intense rest periods. This type of exercise burns more overall body fat than slow and steady exercise, like jogging. Ideally you will need the following:
- Download a free tabita timer app. I use Tabita Timer it’s simple to use
- Have your favourite high energy play list (to get you across the finish line when all you want to do is pass out!)
- Wireless ear buds work best
The HIIT workout I’m currently doing 3x a week;
- 30 sec mountain climbers – 10 sec rest
- 30 sec burpees– 10 sec rest
- 30 sec Jumping jax– 10 sec rest
- 30 sec Push ups– 10 sec rest
- 30 sec Jumping squats– 10 sec rest
- 30 sec Skip– 10 sec rest
- 30 sec Skaters– 10 sec rest
- 30 sec wall squat– 10 sec rest
- 30 sec Sit ups– 10 sec rest
9 moves (30 sec each) 6x through
These moves and times are simply a guide which you can change to suit your fitness and ability level.
**Please note if you’re new to HIIT, SLOW the exercises down because getting the technique right is far more important than speed in the early stages. Try doing a HIIT program initially 1x a week then move to 2-3x a week in addition to your other activities.
Share with us your go-to high energy tracks that motivate you to get over the finish line.
The songs on my workout playlist are all dance remixes – these motivate me to go really hard:
- Stephanie Mill –What cha gonnna do with my lovin (DJOKO Edit)
- Yvonne Elliman – If I can’t have you (DJOKO 12 inch club remix)
- This time baby – evil smarty (smart edit)
- Jackie Mooore – This time baby John Morales M+M Mix
- Frances Joli – Come to me Si Fi Noise rmx
- Prince – I would die 4 U – DJ Sameer remix
- George Michael – Amazing (Mario Marques Amazing Edit)
- Michael Sembello – She’s a maniac (Bloody Beetroot Remix)
- Irene Cara – Flashdance What a feeling remix
- Rocky Theme Tune by fake sounds
www.acsm.org “Interval-based exercise: So many names, so many possibilitie”
www.mayoclinic.org/ Fitness tips for menopause
www.nike.com/au/en_gb/c/nike-plus/training-app Great fitness ideas