Rather than dread this cycle of life, many women are choosing to be proactive and look for ways to manage menopause - to help their bodies adjust through these changes and come out on the other side healthy and strong. Logansport Memorial wants to help women take charge of their bodies with six tips to help alleviate menopause symptoms and improve overall health.
Every woman experiences menopause differently. For some, it is a mild transition with few side effects. Others will have years of hot flashes and night sweats. Still others will occasionally experience strong bursts of symptoms while having relatively mild issues most of the time. No matter which category you fit into, the following tips can help you alleviate common menopause symptoms and counteract some of the health issues that often pop up during this time of change.
Six Tips to Manage Menopause
1. ExerciseIf regular exercise isn't part of your life, it's time to add it to your health habits. Exercise helps stave off weight gain (a common issue during menopause). It improves muscle mass, something many women start to lose after menopause. Exercise also lowers stress and improves your cardiovascular function. Whether you're in the midst of menopause or know it's coming soon, exercise is a great thing to add to your routine. Most doctors recommend 15-20 minutes of aerobic activity per day, at least five days per week.
Aerobic activities include walking, jogging, swimming, dancing or riding a bike. Strength training is important to help counteract osteoporosis risks. Good weight training options are resistance tubes or bands, free weights or weight machines. Yoga is another strength activity that has the added bonus of offering relaxation techniques and poses that many women find offer relief from common menopause symptoms. No matter what activity you choose to do, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
2. Limit intake of caffeine and alcoholExhaustion, mood swings, or hot flashes may make you want to pour a second cup of coffee in the morning or reach for a second drink at night. However, those things can actually make menopause side effects worse. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol and you might find yourself feeling much better.
3. Quit smokingQuitting smoking is certainly a step towards better overall health but it has even more impact for women in menopause. Smoking increases the already larger cardiovascular risks of being postmenopausal. Studies show that smokers also tend to experience more hot flashes. Need help quitting? Read our article with tips to stop smoking.
4. Use relaxation techniquesStress tends to exacerbate the symptoms of menopause so anything you can do to relieve stress and relax is going to be helpful. Many women find that actively engaging in relaxation techniques while experiencing symptoms can provide relief as well. Deep breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are all excellent ideas to add to your weekly (or even daily) routines.
5. Stay coolHot flashes are probably the most common side effect of menopause and they can strike anytime, anywhere. If you're experiencing hot flashes on a regular basis, look for ways to help head them off. Dress in layers. Wear natural fabrics such as cotton. Sit by a window or fan when possible and pack a handheld fan in your purse for times when you can't cool off.
6. Watch your nutritionJust as limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol can help manage menopause, the types of food you choose to eat can reduce symptoms as well. Now is the time to increase your calcium or vitamin D with foods like low fat yogurt, salmon, and broccoli. Increase your fiber to help stave off weight gain - fruits, veggies and whole grains are excellent options. In short, following a diet that has been shown to improve bone and heart health is a good way to also help alleviate menopause symptoms and some of the health concerns that could pop up.
Learn more about menopause in the Menopause Center of Logansport Memorial's Health Library.