30 Jan, 2014

Managing Menopause

Managing Menopause

(Strap) Women’s Running


Menopause is an event that typically occurs in women in midlife, during their late 40s or early 50s, and it signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman's life. This transition from a potentially reproductive to a non-reproductive state is the result of changes in female hormonal production by the ovaries. This transition is normally not sudden or abrupt, tends to occur over a period of years, and is a consequence of biological aging.


For some women, the accompanying effects that can occur during menopause can significantly disrupt their daily activities and sense of well-being, and while Lisa Mickelsfield, Senior Researcher in the MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand, says that it hasn't been proven that exercise reduces the symptoms of menopause, but that it has been suggested that women who exercise have more tolerance for the physical discomforts and are therefore able to manage the symptoms better. “Exercise is very important in improving the quality of life during this phase of a women’s life.”


More importantly. Lisa says there are certain things an active woman entering menopause needs to take note of: “Women entering this phase of life need to pay attention to musculoskeletal factors, such as the decrease in oestrogen, which is associated with decreased flexibility and bone mineral density. For this reason, women should spend more time stretching before and after training and also avoid training in places where they could easily fall. Another thing to take into account is a good sports bra, as breast tissue becomes more lax during the menopausal years.”


There are a few other steps you can follow to help you run in synch with this life change:


1. Stay hydrated. Hot flashes and night sweats can disrupt your hydration levels, which may leave you fatigued and greatly affect your running performance. A simple strategy to measure your hydration level is to look at the colour of your urine. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are. When it is completely clear you could be over-hydrating.


2. Run with the flow. Modify your training programme to suit these life changes, notably by running based on how you feel rather than following a strict programme. Run at an easy effort on the days when your symptoms are at their worst. Save hard workouts and long runs for the days where you feel your best, and then give it your all. You will be able to maintain a balance this way.


3. Invest in lean muscle. The loss of lean muscle tissue during midlife is known to have an effect on the metabolic rate, and this loss increases post-menopause. This can be minimised by incorporating resistance training two to three times per week in your programme to develop and maintain muscle tissue. This will boost your metabolism, increase bone density and joint stability, and can also improve your running economy.


4. Take notes. Keeping a journal to track your symptoms as well the calories you burn and the fuel you consume can help you make more healthful choices. Logging the details of your runs also gives you a better sense of control, and allows you to adapt your training if you’re feeling tired. This allows you to better manage your training and your life.