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Staying Fit During Perimenopause

Posted Feb 15 2012 12:00am

Today’s post is a guest post by Dorothy Hall from Bright Body Fitness

We go through so many changes during perimenopause, but we don’t tend to adjust our fitness and exercise routines correspondingly.

This mid-life shift requires us to make intelligent changes and choices in our exercise routine if we want to maintain sufficient levels of wellness and fitness in a realistic way. You may have noticed that what you used to do for exercise and weight management doesn’t bring the same effects or results that it used to!

It Really Does Get Harder To Lose Weight
I recall one of the first signs of perimenopause in my early to mid-40′s was gaining weight regardless of how much I worked out, and even if I increased my exercise intensity. This was a rather disappointing and frustrating introduction to perimenopause, especially as a fitness trainer!

Drybabe

A study was done at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and posted in the Journal of the American Medical Association . It showed that unless you were to exercise vigorously for an hour everyday, or make changes in your diet, women naturally gain an average of 5 pounds during the perimenopausal years. While I would like to imagine I could do an hour of exercise a day, for many of us it’s not very realistic, either due to time constraints or not having the energy to maintain such a schedule.

As if perimenopause wasn’t hard enough, studies show that many women around this same time present with hypothryoidism and adrenal fatigue . A lifetime of multi-tasking and stress, along with exposure to environmental toxins and unhealthy foods start to take it’s toll on us as we hit perimenopause, complicating our symptoms and ability to lose weight .

Inflammation & Mid-Life
Early on in perimenopause we can generally get by with the same types of exercise as in our 30′s and still recover quickly from a vigorous workout. But as perimenopause progresses, the ups and downs of our hormonal shifts, accompanying symptoms like insomnia , hotflashes , mood swings and more start to take their toll. It can get very hard to maintain a consistent and effective workout schedule, even for the most disciplined among us. Coinciding with this, we’re not able to recover as quickly after exercise, and we’re more easily prone to inflammation and injury.

Research shows that changes to the immune and endocrine systems as we age have far-reaching effects that cause an increase in cytokine release and a decrease in our anti-inflammatory feedback systems.* Cytokines are proteins that serve as messengers between cells and regulate our inflammatory processes in the body. So you might find that trying a new exercise class or taking a vigorous run leaves you stiff and achey for a day or two when in the past you wouldn’t have felt it at all.

While over-exercising, or exercising in the wrong way, can cause negative inflammation, the right kinds of exercise can actually help reduce overall inflammation in the mid-life body while maximizing sufficient cardiovascular exercise, strength conditioning, balance and EPOC, a fancy term for raising the body’s metabolic burn for a period of time after you’ve finished exercising.

We just need to get more intelligent and efficient with out exercise and fitness routines as we get older, and definitely NOT give up!

T-Tapp
There are many forms of exercise that fit this model which I’ll talk about below. But my go-to form of exercise that maximizes the benefits while reducing inflammation and fatigue is T-Tapp . Dr. Nicholas Perricone, the anti-aging, anti-inflammatory expert and board certified dermatologist calls T-Tapp “the ideal anti-aging workout”.

T-Tapp is a low impact/high output workout that uses comprehensive, compound (or multiple) muscle movements to rebuild the body from the inside out, rather than weights and lot’s of equipment.

Developed by exercise expert Teresa Tapp, the exercises use whole body isometric movement to build core strength, flexibility, balance and long, lean muscle tone. T-Tapp has been shown to support the lymph system, hormonal balance, strengthen the spine and build neurokinetic flow (the brain-body connection), all of which is important for optimum bodily function in all areas of life.

This workout is a life saver for myself and my fitness clients. It creates a solid foundation of correct skeletal and muscular alignment for everyday life while teaching you how to activate your muscles without using lot’s of machines or heavy weights. Many report sudden weight loss when undertaking T-Tapp while others notice an increase in strength and posture alignment. Personally I experienced an inch increase in my height after a year of doing T-Tapp, and the strengthening and lifting of a foot with a fallen arch.

Once you take the time to learn the foundation moves that Teresa Tapp has created, you can apply these techniques to just about any form of exercise you undertake. Or, you can simply use one of the many workouts Teresa has created just a few days a week. Check out Teresa’s Try Before You Buy page to see T-Tapp in action!

While we really need to maintain a workout routine at least 5 days a week as we hit perimenopause, I’m a huge advocate of the ‘less is more’ philosophy. T-Tapp is just that. In many cases, by maintaining a simple 2 or 3 day a week workout with T-Tapp, you’ll maintain your weight more easily.

Other forms of low-inflammation workouts with varying degrees of well roundedness include Pilates, Yoga, body weight routines, free weights, low-impact aerobics, functional training, suspension training, Nordic walking and more. Another workout I recommend and love is The Bar Method . It involves similar isometric and aligning movements that will really burn your butt but minimize impact!

So, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to be more intelligent and efficient in our fitness approach. In future posts I will talk about the need for variety in our workout routines and how to counteract stiff joints and muscles.

____________________
Dorothy Hall is a Certified Personal Trainer with The National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a certified T-Tapp Trainer, living in Hawaii. A fitness enthusiast now challenged by perimenopause and hypothyroidism, she currently shares informative fitness tips and encouragement for those of us navigating staying fit during mid-life on her website Bright Body Fitness .

Endnotes
* Biological Research for Nursing, Inflammation in Aging

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