A Woman’s Second Spring
In China the menopause is referred to as “a woman’s second spring”, in this culture it is seen as a positive time of creativity and new beginnings, women often find a new and confident voice. The menopause, or “the change” as it’s often referred to in Western countries, up to recent years has been a topic that we feel has been a little brushed under the carpet. The description of “the change” certainly holds some truth, a woman’s body does undergo many changes during menopause, and we feel it’s important for woman to fully understand all of the changes they may be experiencing, learn how to thrive during menopause, and to find a support network of like minded woman that currently are or have been through similar experiences.
Just because changes are happening, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to slow down, or your performance will rapidly decline. Take Rebecca Rusch for example, a 7 time world champion, now in her 50s. Rebecca didn’t start her career as a professional bike racer until she was 38. Or Dara Torres who is a 5 time olympic champion, and aged 41 still made the team. It just becomes a time where you need to check in with your body and learn to work with your physiology. Which is why we are running our menopause seminar, the more information you know, the more informed decision making you can make, and the more empowered you can be.
Menopause is effectively a line in the sand, a point at which a woman has gone 12 months without a period, which marks the end of menstruation and fertility. The average age for going through menopause is 51, with 45 – 55 being the typical age range.
Perimenopause is the time prior to this point, and due to erratic hormone levels women may experience a whole range of different symptoms. These symptoms can vary greatly between person to person, although there does seem to be some factors you can do to protect against or significantly reduce symptoms. It is estimated that 25% of women experience significantly worse symptoms. There are a lot of challenges women face during this time, so being prepared for the challenges and equipped with the knowledge of how to best thrive for this time is essential.
Post menopause is classed as any time after the line in the sand or timestamp of menopause. There are many myths that face this time, one of which being that many women expect it’s a case of 12 months of no period and then back to business. Although symptoms do tend to calm down as a woman enters post menopause some symptoms may remain. The other consideration here is due to the protective nature of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
We know that there needs to be extra considerations around topics such as heart health, brain health, bone health, muscle mass retention, weight gain as well as the host of symptoms that can be present at this time. All of this will be covered in our menopause seminar [Monday 27th July 7pm at The Fitness Collective HQ].
What You Can Do About It
Firstly we feel it’s important to appreciate that female bodies are changing, a shift in perspective, education and support around change can have a profound impact on how a woman experiences menopause. There are aspects of menopause we encourage you to discuss with your doctor, but there certainly are exercise, nutrition and lifestyle factors you can look to implement to help you to both manage symptoms, reduce the risk of associated health risks, and thrive through menopause and beyond.
There are strategies covering nutrition, exercise and your lifestyle that we discuss in the seminar to help you thrive, not just survive during this time.. Here’s a small snippet from the seminar about the benefits of strength training
The Importance of Strength Training
A study done by Dr Rosanne Woods to look at the association between lean body mass (basically your body weight minus your body fat – so primarily muscle) with menopausal symptoms. The study found that maintaining a higher lean body mass had a profound effect on vasomotor symptoms.
Clearly strength training during time is important, particularly when we consider muscle and bone loss, but also from a symptom, function and health perspective. It’s never too late to start, and the sooner you start the better.
Lastly, a female may start to experience some hormonal changes as early as her late 30s. There is a huge amount a woman can do during their late 30s and early 40s in order to aid their menopausal transition. The seminar may be very useful for women that may not have quite reached perimenopause yet, but will do in the next several years.
 Association of lean body mass to menopausal symptoms: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation – Rosanne Woods* , Rebecca Hess, Carol Biddington and Marc Federico