Article by Jane Dowling
Hello Gorgeous, Fab over 50 girls!
My mission is to help you with your journey through the menopause and to feel as great as you possibly can. I will give you the tools to find a life you love through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.
I would like to start to talk about exercise as I have lots of women contact me on how to get started and what exactly they should be doing.
Please, before you undertake any new exercise programme do have a visit with your GP to get the green light.
Every woman for her health should be doing some bone loading, cardio and stretching exercise.
Today I am going to concentrate on bone loading as it is over looked by women and I cannot express enough how important our bone health is. In the following weeks I will talk about cardio and stretching.
Bone health and the Menopause
I don’t want to shock you ladies but I am so passionate about this I am going to give you some hard facts about the ageing process.
Before you read the next paragraphs on what happens to our bones, I want you to think that my advice on how to strengthen bones will also help banish belly fat! As a healthier, stronger muscle burns fat at rest.
Banish belly fat!
If you carry out toning and strength work not only are you keeping your bones healthy but it will be easier to keep the belly fat away, be slimmer and you will feel just fantastic!…Strong body strong mind.
Osteoporosis is the silent killer, after 30 years of age our bone density hits a decline. This decline is so great that it is frightening, so please, take my advice. When we hit menopause that decline speeds up, so therefore doing weight bearing/bone loading exercise is more important than ever before.
When we are young are bones are very dense so any hit we take through impact work, jumping or falling we are at low risk. Image honeycomb, when we are young the holes are very small so therefore making the bone stronger. However, as we age our hormone levels (especially oestrogen) decline, these holes become bigger, so therefore higher risk of fracture.
The major sites of osteoporosis are hips, wrist and spine. Hip fractures in an older people can be extremely detrimental for that individual; usually a women will not know she has weak bones until she has a fall or fracture.
Dowagers humps/Kyphosis – This is where the upper spine takes on a curve. It means the vertebrae have weakened and collapsed in on themselves.
The lower spine is also affected; having osteoporosis in these sites can cause a lot of pain. Specific exercise (see seated back extension below) can help alleviate the pain by making the muscles stronger therefore supporting the structure and taking pressure off the nerves which cause the pain, such as pain radiating down the leg – commonly known as sciatic pain. There can be other reasons for sciatic pain, if you are in doubt see a health professional for proper diagnosis.
During menopause when our oestrogen hits a decline, the collagen in our joints is also decreased this leads to pain in knees, hips and lower spine. These pains are sometimes overlooked by GPs and put down to wear and tear, when in fact it is due to a decrease in oestrogen and collagen due to the menopause.
However, strength training and stretching exercises can help.
What is Bone Loading?
Bone loading means; putting stress through your bones by an external force.
This can be your own body weight with exercises such as press ups or using external weights, such as fixed resistance machines in the gym, exercise bands, or free weights – these can be hand held weights or just water bottles!
If you do have osteoporosis then some forms of exercise can be harmful, such as running, jumping or other impact work. Also you need to be careful with certain spine exercises; such as ab curls and back extensions as if you have osteoporosis in the spine this can aggravate the condition. So you must keep your spine straight when performing exercises. A lot can still be done, so don’t be put off.
Any muscle that you work please make sure you stretch it out after each session.
Another great way to help with painful joints, muscles and osteoporosis is to start HRT (hormone replacement therapy). HRT has had some bad press in the past, newer research shows that it is now safe for the majority of women under the age of 60 years, new NICE guidelines have been produced to show this.
During the menopause, we are at higher risk of heart disease and osteoporosis; taking HRT can lower this risk.
Dr Louise Newson, the Menopause Doctor also shares some information on HRT on her informative website https://menopausedoctor.co.uk/news/myths-about-hrt/
Please see below 2 exercises – one for the wrists and one for the lower back. Remember you need to target the upper spine and hips also. More exercises can be found on my website. If you have any questions email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments below.
Wrists; Press ups and triceps dips are great.
Lower Spine; Seated back extension (see Photo below) you can do a back extension either on the floor or on a ball, however if you have osteoporosis in your spine then this can be contraindicated. So stick with this seated version and not the one you may do in an exercise class where you are lying face down on the floor,
This exercise is great for the lower spine and is totally safe if you have Osteoporosis. (photo of seated back extension)
Keep back straight
Keeps abs pulled in
Keep your arms straight
Hold in the upright position for 6 seconds.
All exercises need to be performed 12 times twice 3 times per week. So do 1 exercise then the other and rotate – be sure to stretch afterwards!