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Health & Fitness During Perimenopause

Perimenopause is a unique experience for everyone, but fitness is known to be universally beneficial in helping you through the next 12 months or longer.
Your added life experience could make you better at sticking to and achieving your goals than any previous time in your fitness journey.
Here’s how to navigate your relationship with fitness while entering perimenopause and what to consider.

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What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is when someone experiences symptoms of menopause caused by changes in hormone levels but still has a period. Perimenopause ends when the person hasn’t experienced a period in 12 months and enters menopause.

Common Symptoms of Perimenopause

There are more than 30 symptoms of perimenopause. All of these symptoms also present in menopause but do not become menopause until the 12-month anniversary of the person’s last period.
Here are a few of the symptoms to look out for. Remember, you only need to experience one symptom while maintaining your period to potentially be experiencing perimenopause.
You can visit the NHS website for more evidence-based guidance on perimenopause.

Here are some of the most common types of symptoms you may experience:

Changes to your Periods

Your period may change in length and flow. Typically, periods will become less frequent and irregular, lighter in flow, or last fewer days. It is also possible periods become lighter but longer or heavier but shorter; everyone is different.

Mental Health Changes and Symptoms

Changes to your hormones can also cause a change in cognition and mental health. Possible symptoms may include:

  • Unexplained mood changes
  • Intensity of mood
  • The speed at which mood changes
  • Problems with memory
  • Problems with concentration

Physical Changes and Symptoms

Some of the most disruptive symptoms of perimenopause can be physical experiences such as the following:

  • Hot Flushes
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Palpitations
  • Worsened Headaches and Migraines
  • Muscle Aches and Joint Pains
  • Changed Body Shape and Weight Gain
  • Skin Changes
  • Reduced Sex Drive
  • Vaginal Dryness and Pain
  • Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

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What are the First Signs of Perimenopause?

The first signs of perimenopause include changes to your period cycle, physical symptoms such as hot sweats, or cognitive changes such as brain fog.
However, it’s important to remember that we’re all different, and your symptoms will differ from the next person. The receptors for the hormones that change during perimenopause are in every cell throughout your body, so symptoms can begin anywhere.

General Health During Perimenopause

With a whole host of symptoms on the horizon, it’s important to use preventative measures to mitigate the severity of your symptoms. One of the best ways to do this is by looking after your physical and mental health.

Nutrition for Perimenopause

Proper nutrition will support your body’s defences and help manage the symptoms of perimenopause

  • Muscle loss is common during perimenopause, so eating enough protein can help reduce the rate of muscle loss.
  • Bone density can also decrease, so you should seek calcium and nutrient-rich foods.
  • Fat gain can occur as muscle mass decreases and the body needs fewer calories. This 2020 study found that a Mediterranean diet is effective at reducing fat in menopausal people, which may improve your cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors.

Hydration During Perimenopause

The hormones impacted by perimenopause and water impact every cell in your body. Less oestrogen and physical symptoms like hot sweats can dangerously low levels of water retention.
As a result, when you go through perimenopause, you should drink more water and monitor yourself for symptoms of dehydration such as thirst, dark urine, and headaches.

Recommended Supplements for Perimenopause

Always go to your doctor to discuss how to manage your symptoms. In the meantime, you can sometimes prevent and alleviate symptoms with supplements.
Magnesium and vitamin C – Magnesium and vitamin C levels drop during menopause. This study found that taking the supplements in tandem can contribute to better overall levels.
Red clover – Red clover is widely thought to contribute to natural hormone replacement. There is no scientific evidence that it works, but it is acknowledged by the NHS.

Hormonal Therapy and Other Medical Interventions

It’s important to remember there’s no ‘cure’ for perimenopause; all treatments are designed to alleviate the discomfort of the associated symptoms and allow you to live a happy life. Some of the most common medical interventions are as follows:

  1. Hormone Replacement Therapy. Also known as HRT, it gives you more oestrogen and progesterone. HRT can come in patches, gel or spray, implants, or tablets.
  2. Sleep medication. Another life-altering symptom of perimenopause is struggling with sleeping or experiencing insomnia. Supplements for the sleep hormone Melatonin can restore your sleep pattern.
  3. Antidepressants. Unfortunately, perimenopause can cause mood disorders in some people. Antidepressants that act quickly or build up in the system over time can be a highly effective way to manage changes in mood.
  4. CBT and therapy. Some mood changes are better treated by CBT and specific types of therapy than antidepressants.

Again, talk to your doctor to find the best treatment and avoid self-diagnosing, as everyone is unique, and even similar symptoms can have entirely different causes.

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Fitness During Perimenopause

Appropriate exercise is good for everyone at every life stage. However, abnormal bleeding and low energy levels during perimenopause can make maintaining your fitness significantly harder. Spend time reviewing your fitness regime to suit your perimenopausal symptoms better and support your motivation levels.

Benefits of Fitness During Perimenopause

Continuing to exercise during perimenopause will help a person in three ways:

  • Avoid loss of muscle mass caused by hormonal changes
  • Improve mental clarity from exercise
  • Contribute to regulating your critical internal systems

What Exercise Should I Do During Perimenopause?

Strength training and conditioning are the best forms of exercise during perimenopause because they maintain and increase muscle mass. Protecting and improving your muscle tone is likely to reduce your chance of injury in everyday life.

Self-care During Perimenopause

We’ve discussed nutrition, medication, and fitness. Finally, self-care can have a beneficial impact on those experiencing perimenopausal symptoms.
Self-care is linked to reduced stress, better sleep, and improved wellbeing.
Forms of self-care include:

  • Getting proper sleep to support bodily functions
  • Journaling and therapy to understand and manage mood changes
  • Gentle restorative exercises such as walking and yoga to maintain overall health

Mood changes are a common symptom of perimenopause, and self-care can be an empowering way to manage less severe symptoms without a doctor’s intervention. A common mood symptom is known as perimenopausal rage, which you can manage in the following ways:

  • Learn to sit with and accept feelings of anger
  • Learn anger triggers and create a plan to mitigate them
  • Practise meditation or other thought techniques to calm the mind
  • Find hobbies or ways to channel the anger
  • Always consider talking to a doctor to diagnose the severity and if medication or therapy is needed.

Key Things to Remember When Working Out to Manage Symptoms of Perimenopause:

  • Nutrition, fitness, medication, and self-care are the four key pillars to maintaining good all-around health during perimenopause.
  • Remember that it’s best to use preventative measures and quickly act when symptoms appear to avoid them getting out of hand.
  • Share your concerns with your immediate support network and your doctor so you can access the proper support and care you need.
  • Finally, remember everyone is different; what worked for one person won’t work for all. Always seek the help of experienced professionals.

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At Coached, we have fully qualified trainers here to help you find a love for fitness through the perimenopause and menopause journey. Explore our website to learn more about our 1-2-1 and group coaching services.

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