How exercise can help you overcome fatigue during menopause


Gillian McGhee
@AVogelUK


26 March 2018

Why do we experience fatigue during the menopause?

Menopausal fatigue is thought to crop up as a result of hormonal imbalances; as your oestrogen levels drop you can notice differences in your energy levels. Lifestyle factors such as stress and anxiety can also trigger fatigue as they can use up your nutritional resources and leave you feeling depleted and low in energy. 

What’s more, during this time, low thyroid functioning and low iron levels are more likely to appear which can both contribute to fatigue and tiredness. Sometimes menopausal fatigue can feel like it comes about for no apparent reason – even if we get a good night’s sleep! – and sometimes it can arise as a result of symptoms that affect our sleep such as insomnia or night sweats.

Why exercise could help

Now let’s get honest here for a moment – when we’re feeling fatigued, whether it’s from menopause or something else entirely, the very last thing we want to do is exercise! However, multiple studies have found that, unlike medication, exercise and staying active have been found to benefit multiple areas of health.1 One study found that exercise can be beneficial for fatigue as well as a number of other menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and weight gain.2

Another found that postmenopausal women who engage in comprehensive exercise maintain a healthy body, healthy bone density levels and good mental health. The study further found that even moderate exercise was enough to keep weight in check and lower the risk of stress, anxiety and depression. 

A study carried out by the University of Georgia discovered that both low and high intensity exercise could significantly reduce fatigue symptoms and increased energy levels by up to 20%! Although both high intensity and low intensity exercise showed to be beneficial for dramatically reducing fatigue symptoms, the study observed that high intensity exercise wasn’t actually better of the two. Those participating in high intensity exercise reported a 49% drop in feelings of fatigue whereas those participating in low intensity exercise reported a whopping 65% drop in fatigue symptoms!3

The study also notes that these improvements were not related to increases in aerobic fitness. It is not exactly known how exercise achieves this beneficial effect, however exercise’s direct action on the central nervous system is thought to play a role. 

Balance your nutritional levels

During the menopause we can become more prone to nutritional deficiencies not just because our hormone levels are fluctuating, but also because of our diet and lifestyle choices. For example, eating a lot of refined sugars and caffeine may give you a temporary energy boost but you’ll soon experience that all familiar energy crash afterwards. 

Low levels of magnesium can contribute to fatigue and vitamin D deficiency has been linked to low mood,  joint pain and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). What’s more, if we suffer from low vitamin D levels, taking a supplement might not be enough to combat these effects if we also suffer from magnesium deficiency. Why is this? Magnesium helps to turn vitamin D into its active form that can be used by the body. 

Eating a healthy balanced diet rich in nutrients will help to prevent nutritional deficiencies and energy lows throughout the day. Be sure to eat regularly as this will prevent your blood sugar levels from falling and spiking and experiencing mood swings as a result. 

Our Balance Mineral Drink is another option as it contains a rich blend of minerals including zinc, magnesium, potassium and calcium, as well as your recommended daily dosage of vitamin D. This drink is specifically tailored towards helping to boost energy levels and reduce fatigue making it the perfect pick-me-up for that afternoon slump.

 

Manage your stress

Menopausal women are more susceptible to the claws of stress, and unfortunately stress can cause countless symptoms in itself! One of these symptoms is fatigue – maintaining such a high level of stress is emotionally exhausting and it can drain our magnesium as well as other important nutrients vital for energy. Stress can therefore leave us feeling both emotionally and physically drained.

Why are menopausal women more vulnerable to stress? Well, oestrogen is responsible for helping to manage levels of cortisol (our stress hormone) in the body. However, as we go through menopause our oestrogen levels begin to drop and this in turn means that we are unable to regulate our cortisol levels as effectively as before.

So what can we do about it? 

• Exercise is a fantastic way to relieve stress as it helps to burn off excess cortisol levels in the body as well as produce feel-good hormones and endorphins

• Relaxation and deep breathing techniques can help to calm the mind, soothe the nervous system and bring you back to the present

• Herbal remedies such as Stress Relief Daytime can be taken in times of stress; the combination of Valerian and Hops make this the perfect stress relief remedy

• Talk it out with friends and family to help get things off your chest and to let them know how you are feeling

1  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296386/
2  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24937024
3  https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/29/the-cure-for-exhaustion-more-exercise/

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