If you’re experiencing symptoms like hot flashes, irritability, trouble sleeping, and weight gain, you might be in perimenopause. Perimenopause is the period before menopause when estrogen and progesterone levels drop, but you still have your monthly cycles. It typically begins around age 40, but it can start as early as age 35. It’s important to understand that the changes happening in your body during perimenopause require a different approach to exercise.
During perimenopause and menopause, women lose muscle mass twice as fast as any other time in their lives. This loss of muscle mass may not appear on the scale or affect how you move right away, but you may feel weaker or less steady. This can be distressing and lead to worry and stress.
Fortunately, there are ways to use exercise to your advantage during perimenopause, but it’s important to reset your expectations. The late 30s and early 40s can be a stressful time as you juggle responsibilities and navigate bodily changes. Instead of pushing harder and believing that more is better, it’s crucial to listen to your body and give it what it needs to function and feel better.
Perimenopause is a time to reassess your workout routine and find ways to exercise smarter. Chronic stress is especially detrimental during this phase, as it can affect hormone levels and hinder your body’s ability to recover. Prioritize managing stress and seek exercises that build functional strength. Functional strength training with heavy weights can challenge your muscles and improve your ability to perform everyday activities.
Don’t shy away from cardiovascular exercise, but shift your mindset and focus on improving and maintaining stamina rather than solely relying on heart rate. High-intensity workouts like HIIT and boot camps can increase stress levels during perimenopause. Instead, find cardio exercises that you enjoy and that bring mindfulness and joy. Combining activities you love, like talking to a friend or listening to a podcast, with stamina training can be more effective and less stressful.
Avoid any exercises that feel stressful or uncomfortable. The goal is to use exercise as a way to tell your cells that you want to be well, rather than pushing yourself to the point of stress and exhaustion. By changing your mindset and approach to exercise, you can optimize your workout routine during perimenopause and support your overall well-being.