Menopause and Exercise
Written by Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD
Menopause Exercises are the most important therapy that a woman can take up to keep herself healthy and supple and to maintain her wellbeing after menopause. Exercises help prevent osteoporosis by decreasing bone loss and stimulating bone growth. Strong muscles help prevent falls by improving the balance and mobility of the body.
The onset of menstruation at around the age of eleven years triggers increasing levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These help to build up muscles and contribute to the general wellbeing of women.
But with age, the muscles begin to lose tone unless a proper exercise routine is maintained. Pregnancies, especially repeated occurance of pregnancies can cause further loss of tone and sagging of the muscles of the abdomen and lower limbs.
The low estrogen levels at the time of menopause also causes the loss of elasticity of the muscle fibers.
Besides improving tone and suppleness of the muscles, menopause exercises also helps to prevent obesity by increasing the basal metabolic rate. Both these factors cut down on the fat deposits in various parts of the body.
Weight bearing exercises like walking and stair climbing stimulate new bone growth. On the other hand, static exercises like yoga help to improve suppleness and maintain balance of the body. Aerobics are good at decreasing obesity and improving muscle development. A combination of these various exercises should be done after menopause.
1. The Wall Arch
Face a wall with your feet 6 inches apart. Stretch your arms up to touch the wall while taking a deep breath in. Concentrate on flattening your stomach. Try reaching up with one arm while stretching down with the other.Repeat with the other arm.
Repetitions: 5 repetitions for each arm twice daily
Benefits : Strengthens stomach and back, stretches shoulders and calves.
2. Standing Back Bend
1. Make two fists and place them on your lower back below the waist. Arch backwards slowly, while taking a deep breath. Repeat.
2.Repeat exercise with your fists at waist level.
3.Repeat exercise with your fists above waist level.
Repetitions: Repeat each exercise three times twice daily.
Benefits : Restores healthy lower back curve, decreases rounded upper back
3. Wall Slide
Place your shoulders and buttocks against a wall with your feet a few inches away from it. Tuck your chin in so that the back of your head is as close to the wall as possible. Keep feet straight ahead and knees straight. Slide up and down against the wall, bending your knees while keeping your back and stomach flat.
To increase thigh strength move your feet about 6 inches from the wall away from their former position. Repeat 4 times a day for 30 seconds each.
Repetitions: Repeat 3 times a day.
Benefits : Strengthens back, stomach, thighs. Decreases rounded upper back. Improves leg alignment.
4. Pelvic Tilt 1
Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor with a small pillow under your head. Tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling your pelvis and ribs together in front and flattening your lower back towards the floor.
Repetitions: Repeat three time twice daily.
Benefits : Strengthens and flattens abdominal muscles
5. Pelvic Tilt 2
Arm raised, perform the Pelvic Tilt. Bring one arm up above your head with elbows straight while squeezing your shoulder blades in and holding the pelvic tilt. be sure to keep your back flat and stomach tight as you lift your arm overhead.
Repetitions: Repeat three times twice daily.
Benefits : Stretches chest muscles
6. Prone Leg Lift
Lie on your stomach, hands at your sides. Place a folded towel beneath your abdomen for comfort. bend your right leg slightly and lift your thigh off the floor. Keep your foot relaxed.
Repetitions: Repeat three times twice daily.
Benefits : Strengthens lower back and buttocks and stretches hip flexors at the front of the thigh.
7. Prone Trunk Lift
Lie on your stomach. Keep stomach tight, feet down and head in a neutral position. With hands at your sides, lift head and shoulders, pinching shoulder blades. Hold for one to three seconds. Relax and repeat. Inhale going up, exhale going down.
Repetions: Repeat three times twice daily.
Benefits : Strengthens back.
It has been seen that regular menopause exercises not only improves the physical health of the menopausal woman but also improves her general feeling of wellbeing. They improve the mood and prevents depression and irritability - so common after menopause. Exercises also prevents the development of many of the mental diseases of later life like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
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