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THE FITNESS PROFESSIONAL’S QUICK GUIDE TO MENOPAUSE

THE FITNESS PROFESSIONAL’S QUICK GUIDE TO MENOPAUSE

Monday, July 16th, 2012

You’re in the middle of a workout, feeling the endorphins kick in, when suddenly the heat surging through your body becomes as intense as that of a big-block V8 idling in a New York City gridlock on a hot summer day.

You know you have your regular training session today – the one you almost always look forward to– but for no particular reason you feel exhausted, drained, like you’re being dragged down by heavy chains, and you just don’t think you can do it.

You haven’t changed your diet or exercise regime in years, and you’ve always maintained the same weight.  Now, in the blink of an eye, you’re feeling as big as Ben Hur and not fitting into any of your clothes!

Just as your aerobics class kicks into high gear, you burst into uncontrollable tears!

As a Fitness Professional, would you know what to do if one of these experiences occurred to your client?  If your client was a 40+ year-old woman, would it cross your mind that she could be suffering from a symptom of menopause? Would you be able to explain what was happening to her and why?  Would you be able to work with her to develop a diet and exercise plan that could help her get fit and feel fantastic while her body went through its natural changes?

Menopause; the “big M”; the “change of life”; the “middle-age spread”; whatever you choose to call it, it’s a physical reality and a growing concern for women aged 40+.  It’s also an issue many Fitness Professionals have traditionally not understood or simply ignored.

As a Fitness Professional, you are in a unique position to help women manage menopause, improve their quality of life by diminishing menopausal symptoms, prolong their lives by countering menopause-related conditions and diseases, and boost their self esteem.  After all, you are one of the first places they will come for help when they feel their bodies changing or their energy dropping.

You’re also in a position to benefit professionally by taking just a little bit of time to understand menopause and the challenges it presents.  You’ll be able to help your 40+ female clients get optimal results and keep them coming back!

Use this “Fitness Professional’s Quick Guide to Menopause” to start learning, so you can reap the rewards of helping your clients experience optimal health, energy, vitality, attention span, mental focus and fitness during menopause.

WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?

Menopause is the permanent ending of menstruation.  Natural menopause is caused by hormonal changes, and it occurs when a woman has not had her period for 12 consecutive months. It signals the end of fertility and the beginning of a new – and potentially rewarding – period of a woman’s life.

Premenopause and Perimenopause refer to the transition years – usually between 2 -7 years -  before menopause, when a woman’s hormones begin to fluctuate and start to cause menopausal symptoms.

WHAT CAUSES MENOPAUSE?

Natural Menopause is caused by shifts in a woman’s hormone balance, particularly in ovarian hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

Estrogen helps regulate the menstrual cycle and prepare the uterus for pregnancy.  Estrogen levels fall 40% – 60% during menopause as the ovaries cease to produce it.  Other organs– and fat cells – continue to produce low level amounts which is why overweight women often suffer fewer menopausal symptoms than lean women.

Progesterone’s role is to change the character of the uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy.  It has many other functions as well, including protecting a woman’s body from many types of cancers, normalising blood sugar levels, helping metabolise body fat, relieving anxiety and acting as a natural antidepressant. In menopause, progesterone levels fall to as low as zero!

Testosterone is commonly referred to as the “male hormone”.  It helps build muscle and bone, and it affects a woman’s libido, mood and energy.  By the time a woman reaches age 40, her testosterone level will drop to ½ of what it was when she was in her twenties and will continue to drop as she ages.

At 14 days ovulation occurs which stimulates the production of progesterone.  If fertilisation does not occur the result is menstruation around 28 days.

If ovulation fails at 14 days (anovulatory cycle), progesterone (red line) is not produced as much resulting in an imbalance of hormones (green line) which may cause unpleasant symptoms of menopause.

 

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE

Symptoms of menopause range from none (20%) to moderate (60%) to severe (20%).  As a Fitness Professional, it’s important that you recognise and understand your clients’ symptoms, particularly as many women don’t want to face the signs of ageing and will not come out and tell you directly.

Be aware of these common indications:

 

Menopause: Common Symptoms

  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • cravings
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • hot flashes
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • decreased libido
  • vaginal dryness
  • incontinence
  • increased risk of conditions and diseases like heart disease and osteoporosis

NUTRITION AND MENOPAUSE

100% of women, whether thin or overweight, will gain weight during menopause if they do not change their lifestyles. It’s proven that symptoms of menopause, including weight gain, can be reduced or exacerbated depending on what a woman eats during these years.  Numerous studies based on the nutrient content of food, provide us with the following guidelines:

Increase

  • Soy
  • herbal supplements: dong quai, chaste berry, black cohash, licorice root
  • water
  • flaxseed lingan, fibre, and Omega 3 fats
  • bioflavanoids (cherries, grape skins, blueberries, cranberries, whole grains, red clover)
  • green tea
  • vitamins and minerals including calcium

 

Decrease

  • M.S.G. (monosodium glutamate)
  • caffeine
  • aspartame (diet sodas)
  • refined, processed and high glycemic foods (white bread, white rice, sweets, candy)
  • chocolate
  • alcohol
  • peanuts

“Rules of Thumb”

  • eat 3 – 5 small meals per day
  • focus on portion size, not calories
  • eat protein at every meal
  • eat a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables daily
  • eat healthy fats every day

 

EXERCISE AND MENOPAUSE

Exercise is a menopausal woman’s best friend.  It allows a woman to control her body and emotions using her own internal resources. Regular exercise can help reduce many menopausal symptoms: it can help regulate weight, stimulate the production of estrogen, strengthen muscle and bone, reduce high blood pressure and diabetes, increase mental agility, sweep excess cortisol (the stress hormone) from the bloodstream, reduce menstrual cramps and PMS, reduce depression and contribute to an overall sense of well-being.

As a trainer of a menopausal woman with fluctuating hormone levels, it’s important to take into consideration how your client feels, and her energy level, on a day-by-day basis.   Training should include a balance of cardiovascular exercise, strength exercises, stretching and relaxation.  Walking, Tai Chi, resistance training and dancing are excellent options.  Avoid jumping, skipping and sudden movements that can exacerbate incontinence.  And remember that menopausal women generally need a longer recovery time

Perimenopausal Fitness Goals

  • protect bone mass and reverse bone loss
  • enhance cardiovascular function
  • strive for healthy body composition
  • reduce menopausal symptoms
  • delay age-related losses in function

Postmenopausal Fitness Goals

·         protect bone mass and reverse bone loss

·         enhance cardiovascular function

·         sustain exercise as a means of boosting quality of life

·         fall prevention by maintaining balance, stability and coordination

Maintain muscle to enhance and maintain activities of daily living

THE JOY OF MENOPAUSE

“The joy of menopause is the world’s best-kept secret. Like venturing through the gateway to enter an ancient temple, in order to claim that joy a woman must be willing to pass beyond the monsters who guard its gate. As you stand at the brink of it, it can appear that only darkness, danger and decay lie beyond. [But] … as thousands of women from all cultures throughout history have whispered to each other, it is the most exciting passage a woman ever makes.”

Leslie Kenton, Passage to Power. London: Ebury Press; 1995

As a Fitness Professional, you have the unique opportunity to help women experience the joy of menopause!  Armed with understanding and awareness, you can apply your knowledge to help women embrace the vigour, energy, creativity, attention span and mental focus they need to continue to enjoy what matters to them most –friends, family, career, fitness or fun!

_________________________________________________________________________

Lyn Miller is the Director of Menofitness® Australia, which has developed the very first online Fitness Australia accredited course about menopause for Fitness Professionals.  Graduates gain Menofitness certification which allows them to add a USP to their business, gain CEC points and position themselves as experts in the unique challenges of women aged 40+. Fitness Professionals can try a grab a Free Hormone Centric Business Report and a FREE demo of the course at www.menofitness.net

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