Quell Insomnia and Nighttime Anxiety
Insomnia plagues millions of Americans, and finding a solution can be difficult when the condition is chronic. Prolonged lack of quality sleep compromises health and sets the stage for depression, high blood pressure, obesity, inflammation, poor memory and even serious risk of heart attack. (read more…)
Exercising Reduces Symptoms
Transitioning through menopause and the years of perimenopausal hormone fluctuation leading up to the finale can be physically and emotionally challenging for many women. Consistently following a healthy diet and positive lifestyle are important, and health researchers, doctors and midlife women can attest to the multidimensional benefits of exercise. Perks may include reduction of menopausal discomfort, better brain function, stronger bones and reversal of estrogen dominance syndrome that can set the stage for fibroids, cystic breasts, cancer, migraines and weight gain.
Studies of 3,500 women in South and Central America have shown that a more active life reduces hot flashes and night sweats. The results, published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, reveal that sedentary individuals often experience increased intensity of related symptoms like insomnia and irritability. Aerobic exercise such as regular walking, hiking, swimming or biking might also help the brain produce neurochemicals that are compromised when estrogen levels drop.
Sue Markovitch, author and owner of Clear Rock Fitness, in Columbus, Ohio, recommends aerobic exercise. “I believe our bodies were made to move. One of the amazing gifts of fitness is it’s truly never too late. When we incorporate daily movement in our lives, all the other systems in the body will work more according to plan. Simply taking a daily walk helps balance brain chemistry,” says Markovitch, who specializes in improving fitness levels for women over 40. “Walking is fitness magic, whether it’s on a treadmill, outside or in the pool. Get your heart rate into an aerobic zone, preferably for 30 to 45 minutes. I’ve heard testimony after testimony of improved sleep, less back or joint pain and better mood.” She also suggests adding a few weekly sessions of resistance training to daily walks.
Most health professionals agree that balance is the key. Jeanne D. Andrus, a menopause expert and author of I Just Want to Be ME Again, in Covington, Louisiana, recommends cardio, resistance training and exercise that increases flexibility and core strength. “For a beginner, this may include two to four days of walking, one to three days of strength training and one to three days of yoga or Pilates, with the goal being three and a half hours of activity per week.”
Of course, all of these need to be at appropriate levels for the woman’s condition and goals,” advises Andrus.
According to studies led by Helen Jones, Ph.D., from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, three, 30-to-45-minute aerobic sessions a week reduced hot flashes and yielded the most significant results.
While some conventional approaches suggest vigorous exercise, many holistic professionals caution against extremes. “It’s important to individualize, and in my ongoing research it’s clear that the high-intensity strength and sculpting approach so often promoted and perceived as necessary to maintain shape, weight and health is a myth,” says Dr. Eden Fromberg, an obstetrician, gynecologist and founder of Holistic Gynecology New York, in Manhattan.
Instead, Fromberg recommends an integrated approach to exercise that supports connective tissue and joints. While some forms of exercise including yoga are perceived as gentler than others, she warns against an all-or-nothing strategy, noting, “Intense, deep stretching and joint-straining may cause injury more easily during hormonal transition.”
Andrus concurs, “If high cortisol levels are involved and accompanied by insomnia, stress placed on the body by rigorous exercise will increase these levels and actually lower available energy.” She also advises adopting a non-aggressive approach for osteoporosis. “Weight-bearing exercise is a must, but if bone loss is already present, start much more gradually to ensure that bones are protected.”
Exercise can be more enjoyable than doing chores. Recreational activities such as dancing, biking or hopping on the swings at the playground are fun ways to do something good for both body and spirit.
Menopause can be a time for personal expansion and an invitation for self-care that might have been neglected or postponed. Fromberg believes we can all revitalize our resources at any stage of life, and the years surrounding menopause call for us to tune into ourselves even more. “What seems like a disruption is an opportunity to listen deeply and reimagine and reorganize one’s life on physical, emotional and spiritual levels.”
Marlaina Donato is a freelance writer, author and multimedia artist. Connect at MarlainaDonato.com.
Yoga Poses to Stay Pain-Free
Gardening is good for body and soul, but long hours and repetitive movements can negatively impact even the fittest body. While stiffness and pain patterns might manifest in the lower back, shoulders, legs and hands, performing a few yoga poses can lessen pain, increase flexibility, boost stamina and prevent injury. (read more…)
A Full-Body Workout for Busy People
When life makes a long workout impossible, a 10-minute, total-body fitness routine can be super-efficient and effective, if done right. To maximize results, strategically order the exercises to work different muscles each time, allowing one set of muscles to rest while working another. This is the basis for a 10-step workout that Franklin Antoian, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and founder of iBodyFit, created for SilverSneakers. (read more…)
Putting Extra Fun into Fitness
heir playful appearance as a beach ball look-alike makes exercise balls welcome props in home workouts, gyms and yoga studios. “They’re a fun training tool for every age, from children to maturing Baby Boomers,” says Dennis Fuchs, CEO of TheraGear, in Sumas, Washington. “Exercise balls are affordable and offer many benefits, from enhanced mobility to reduced risk of injury and increased athletic performance.” (read more…)
Keep Moving to Stay Fit
We have become a nation of couch potatoes. The average American takes only 5,900 steps a day, somewhat better than the sedentary Brits that average less than 4,000. The notion that overall we need to take 10,000 steps a day to be physically fit started with manpo-kei, a 1960s Japanese marketing tool to sell pedometers. (read more…)
The New Face of Sports Medicine
From college athletics to Olympic training, sports medicine has a new, holistic face.
Coaches and athletes nationwide are attributing quicker recovery time, less inflammation and better focus to a whole body approach to health care. A nutrient-dense diet tailored to individual needs is at the heart of overall fitness. Like Venus Williams and Tom Brady, tennis and football superstars who prefer raw vegan and organic whole foods, respectively, many of today’s outstanding athletes choose to eat clean and incorporate mind-body practices. (read more…)
Four Ways to Flex Our Muscles
Whether working out at the gym or taking to the trails, stretching is sometimes an overlooked asset to any exercise regimen. Eliminating stretches or not doing them properly increases the risk of injury and deprives muscles of what they need for optimum performance. (read more…)
Bouncing, Leaping and Lunging Our Way to Bone Health
Success in the quest for stronger bones is possible at any age.
Start and Stay Young
“Peak bone strength is reached by the age of 30, so it’s vital for young people to engage in dynamic impact movement through their teen years and 20s,” says Sherri Betz, chair of the American Physical Therapy Association bone health group, a doctor of physical therapy and geriatric-certified specialist with a private practice in Santa Cruz, California. (read more…)
Simple Strategies for Staying on Track
Renowned yogi and international teacher Rodney Yee, of New York City, has maintained an inspired yoga practice for 37 years while juggling career obligations, fame and family life.
While the benefits of yoga are increasingly well known—from stress reduction and pain management to a more limber body and inner peace—Yee is also aware of the challenges to maintaining a consistent practice. (read more…)
Escape into Nature with a Day Trip
To many, hiking means long-distance treks through forests or backpacking remote terrain. “In reality, it’s more about getting out into green areas close to home,” says Wesley Trimble, of the American Hiking Society. “It’s about immersion in nature.” (read more…)
The Fast Path to Flushing Toxins
Doctors, health experts and fitness gurus tell us that we should break a sweat every day—and for good reason. Sweat not only activates a host of benefits tied to health-boosting exercise, perspiring itself is curative. Whether sitting in a sauna, walking on a warm day or working out, sweating is a necessary bodily function with powerful healing effects. (read more…)
Racquets and Paddles Get a Sporting Makeover
Two fun ways to use tennis courts for fitness are showing big increases in popularity.
Meet the New “Pickleball”
You may not have heard of it yet, but pickleball is a mixture of tennis, squash and table tennis, and it’s one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) at usapa.org estimates that 2.5 million players are active now, with the number expected to multiply to 8 million by next year. (read more…)
Staying Aware Avoids Problems
“I began my personal training in the Non-Violent System (NVS) of self-defense with Grandmaster Verkerke in 1996,” says Eddie Rose, senior instructor of NVS Peace in the Midst of Non-Violence at Shangri-La Springs, in Bonita Springs, Florida. This aspect of the martial art form seicho jutsu was created by Canadian Daniel Verkerke, Ph.D., as a simple self-defense system to teach and perpetuate nonviolence; he continues to share it with the public, law enforcement, corporations and private security firms in the U.S. and internationally. (read more…)
Races Beckon Beginners
“I’ve run in cities, rural areas and suburbs. I’ve run while deployed to military bases in the Middle East, in cities on four continents, in blazing heat and winter snowstorms,” says Maria Cicio, a licensed professional counselor candidate and marathoner in Grove, Oklahoma. “I’ve been running regularly for 25 years, mostly injury-free, and have found what works best for me.” (read more…)
Workouts Use Natural Body Patterns
“Imagine an exercise system that strengthens the body enough to be used in training world-class athletes, stretches more safely than any form of yoga and expands the core training concepts of Pilates into natural full-body movements like those used in everyday reaching and walking, along with jumping and swimming. This is the Gyrotonic system,” says Angela Crowley, a Gyrotonic master teacher, trainer and exercise spa owner in Coral Gables, Florida. (read more…)
How to Stay Healthy, Flexible and Strong
“When thinking about the best forms of exercise as we enter midlife and beyond, we should first clarify some myths and preconceptions,” says Michael Spitzer, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, biochemist, fitness expert and author of Fitness at 40, 50, 60 and Beyond. “In our society, there’s a mindset that once we pass our 40th year, it’s all downhill from there. Our metabolism slows and we gain weight, lose mobility and flexibility, deal with more aches and pains, experience shortness of breath and the list goes on.” (read more…)
“Kettlebells can replace almost all other exercise equipment in providing an all-in-one workout, combining strength and cardio benefits,” explains Shelly Bumpus, an Athletics and Fitness Association of America-certified personal trainer and owner of the Studio Women’s Fitness Center, in Scott, Louisiana. Bumpus often uses kettlebells in strength and conditioning exercise classes to afford a balanced full-body workout that’s fun and engaging. (read more…)
New Year’s Resolutions that Stick
Every January, we rally our hopes, vowing that this time our New Year’s resolutions will finally stick. However, “If you don’t have a plan, plan to fail,” says Kansas City, Missouri, personal trainer Jake Albracht. We can make our health and fitness goals for 2017 a reality instead of just wishful thinking.
Find a good trainer. “A personal trainer provides a helpful base of knowledge because the hardest part for most people is a lack of planning and diligence in following up. Trainers can step in to help a client achieve their goals,” says Albracht. (read more…)
New Fusions with Yoga, Dance and Boxing
With 11,000 studios across the U.S., “Pilates continues to grow because an increasingly wide spectrum of people are discovering how it can benefit them,” says Elizabeth Anderson, executive director of the Pilates Method Alliance, in Miami.
Pilates instructor Amanda January, who works at The Carriage Club, in Kansas City, eventually became an instructor because, “I love the challenge of it. I had always been a dancer, and found Pilates provides the movement therapy that my dance classes lack.” (read more…)