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Managing Menopause

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(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.

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