My favourite simple exercises during menopause

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

20 March 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. Today, on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to tell you a little secret about how you can sneak in some very simple, easy exercises into your daily life.

Keeping active in the menopause

Now we know it's really important to keep active in the menopause, for all sorts of different reasons. We need to keep our bones healthy and strong. We need to keep our heart healthy and strong. We need to keep our joints mobile because the last thing we want to do is seize up and become less mobile as we get older.

We need to keep our flexibility going as well, because that's very important for movement all the time, but it can be really difficult during the menopause. There can be all sorts of things that can sabotage our desire to get fit. We can be having lots of hot flushes and sweats. You know? Who wants to be jumping up and down when you're already hot and bothered? We can have joint aches and pains, which can make it really painful to do the simplest exercises.
We can be fatigued. We can have low mood. We can find that our motivation is just totally gone. There's also our self-image as well, if we feel that we've put on a little bit of weight, or we've got a few more wrinkles. The last thing we want to be doing is jumping up and down in the gym, showing everybody.

Exercises to get you going

So there's lots of reasons why we can get put off by doing exercises, but I've got quite a few little ones that I'll do during the day or during the evening, when I'm at home. I find these really helpful at just keeping me going, especially if I've been really busy, and I don't have time to do a formal set of exercises or if I'm feeling just a little bit tired or rundown. So I'll tell you the ones that I do, and hopefully you'll be able to fit them into your daily life as well.

Exercise 1

It's important to keep our arms nice and strong, our shoulders nice and strong, and also, our wrists as well because, very often, as we get older, our wrists and our grip can weaken. It makes it more difficult to open jars of coffee and jars of jam.

So these are ones that I tend to do in my kitchen. You can get hold of a couple of tins of baked beans or soup and just start to do various arm exercises, lifting your arms up your head and to the side, and rotating your wrists back and forwards can be very helpful too.

Exercise 2

You can learn to do press-ups just against the sink while you're waiting for the kettle to boil.

Exercise 3

Another great one is to do windmills. That's just moving your arms backwards and forwards. If you do that 10 times back, 10 times forwards, and do that two or three times, you can really feel the circulation picking up in your arms, and it can actually give your heart a little bit of a workout as well. So we've got the heart itself. We need to keep that activated.

Exercise 4

So this takes a little bit more effort, but it can certainly be worth it. Steps are great for this. So if you haven't been doing a lot of exercise, even just stepping up and down, 20 or 30 times, once or twice a day, on one step, can be really beneficial.
Once you feel that you're getting better at that, you can start every time you go up and down steps. Just start to make a little bit of more effort going up and down. I find now, you know, unless I'm laden down with shopping bags or things like that, that I will run up and down any set of stairs that I actually come to. That's fabulous for giving your heart a really quick workout at some point.

Exercise 5

You can also look at skipping. This is a great one for working your heart. Again, you might find you can only manage it once or one or two minutes, and then you have to stop and start again, but it's amazing if you keep up with these little exercises. You suddenly realise how far you've actually come in quite a short space of time.

Exercise 6

The other thing you can do here is star jumps. I know the first time I started doing those, I think I ended up doing three and then just about collapsed, but I can now do loads more. Again, it's just doing two or three a day, twice a day, and next day, just do an extra one, and so on. You can really build up your repertoire very, very quickly.

Exercise whilst your sitting

There's loads of exercises you can do while sitting on your chair, watching the TV or watching your favorite soaps.

Exercise 7

A really good one is to get inside of your thighs exercised. This is such a problem area for a lot of women. All you need to do is get a small, firm cushion. Place it in between your thighs, and just keep squeezing. You can do that, on and off, for as long as you're actually watching the TV. You can actually sit with your legs out and just move your legs up and down. To make it that little bit harder, you can place a book on your shins and do it that way.

Exercise 8

Did you know that even if you practice standing up and sitting down without using your hands, that you're actually starting to do squats? That's great for your heart and great for your thighs as well.

Exercise 9

Sitting, watching the TV, you can also do the shoulder shrugs back and forwards. This is a really important one, especially, like me, you do a lot of sitting during the day at a desk, because your shoulders can become very tight. That can actually end up giving you a Dowager's hump if you're not particularly careful.

Watch your balance

One of the very important things that we need to watch as we get older is our balance. They know that a huge number of women who fall and break their hips, it's been just because they've lost their balance for a second. So this is one that I would say really do practice in some way or another, every single day.

Exercise 10

I've got one of those wobble boards. Oh, dear. It's really so difficult. I thought it would be very, very easy. Even now, after months of practice there, I'm still wobbling all over the place. But it's great for actually helping to focus your attention on your balance.
One of the lovely little tips I read was that using a wobble board actually helps the spine. It actually helps the circulation in the spine, and it can actually help if you're getting a little bit of foggy thinking. So five minutes on a wobble board, a day, can actually cause a lot of improvement to your brain function. All I would say is if you get one of these, when you start, do it near a wall, so that if you lose your balance, you've actually got something to hold onto.

Exercise 11

The other thing that I do is just practice standing on one leg for a little while. I'll do it if I'm waiting at the photocopier. You can do it while you're waiting for the bus or in the queue at the supermarket. Just maybe start holding one leg up for 30 seconds, and then the other one, and just see how you get on. Then slowly increase every time you do that, so that you're finding that your balance gets absolutely improved.

Keep your fitness ticking over

So there's loads and loads of exercises that you can do, or not even exercises, just simple movements that are going to help your health, generally, and they're going to help to keep your fitness ticking over until maybe your energy gets back, and then you can focus on some serious exercise time.

What exercises do you do?

If any of you have any lovely exercises that you can do, then please let me know. I would love to hear it.

Don't forget to stretch

Oh, and one other thing. I forgot about stretching. I'm getting a little bit of menopause brain, I think, today. It's been a very busy day. Stretching is very important for us as well, to keep our muscles actually in good condition. Can you bend down and touch your toes? Can you bend sideways? Sideways-bends are a lovely one to actually do, maybe just when you get out of bed in the morning or before you go to bed at night, when your muscles may be a little bit more loose.
I was actually asking some of my friends what their stretching poses are, and one of the ladies in the office actually said she uses her Hoover. She just gets hold of the handle with one hand and stretches right out and back, right out and back, and then uses her other hand. That gives you amazing body stretches. You can start to lunge with your legs, which, again, is absolutely great for your thigh muscles. So there's even, you know, dusting and Hoovering and housework. You can actually make it into a little bit of an exercise plan for you.

Let me know your tips!

So do let me know if you have any really great tips, because I would love to hear about it. So, I look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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