Ask an Exercise Physiologist: exercising with your period and managing menopause | HerCanberra

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Ask an Exercise Physiologist: exercising with your period and managing menopause

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Interesting questions this week about managing menopause through movement, and managing energy while menstruating.

I’ll get to the other questions on osteoporosis, a safe beginner running program, yoga scheduling and arthritis lifestyle prevention strategies over the next month.

Ask an EP is here to help with all your health and wellness questions and challenges—lifestyle, wellness, pain and health.

Do you have a burning health and wellness question? Now is your chance to ask.

Every fortnight we will pick a couple of questions, and help you solve your burning query. If we share our problems, we are more likely to solve them.

I’m a novice jogger. I’m 10kg overweight and can’t seem to shift the bulge (menopausal). I get injured very easily (stress fracture in my foot, plantar fasciitis, current sore hip).

I’ve been cleared to start jogging again—do you have any suggestions to avoid another running injury? 

— Anne-Marie, 58

Firstly, have you had a bone density test recently? Do you regularly consult a qualified dietician or nutritionist, to manage your food-lifestyle? Here are a few tips for you when it comes to your love of running:

Have supportive footwear or look into buying “heel cups” (acts as a shock absorber). The Athletes Foot test your foot type and recommend the shoe for your individual foot. Or see a local podiatrist if you need extra help to avoid lower limb injuries.

Have a graduated training plan—try to schedule a couple of walks too), in between your gradual return to running sessions. Allow your body to adapt to the new load (slow and steady).

Schedule your first few months on a grass track. A supportive surface is soft on the legs and you can judge your increased km’s more effectively.

Think long term. You want to enjoy the process. Choosing an exercise routine is all about consistency, enjoyment and the long-term training effects.

Take a friend. Have a coffee. Make it a regular, fun, social ritual that creates lifelong healthy patterns! Allow your body to gradually adapt to the new load.

Consult an allied health professional to give you an injury prevention running program (focusing on strength). A program that takes you 10 minutes, 3-4 times a week will do the trick.

Ask for stability, mobility and strengthening exercises, and get them to assess your gait! It’s the little plans you put in place which will have long term physiological gains!

Enjoy the process of getting back on your feet.

Love, Kirra

Do you have any suggestions for exercising when menstruating? I’m exhausted at the end of my cycle, to the point where I have to force myself to exercise (when usually I’m quite motivated—with F45, cycling at the gym and running). Thank you for this column.

— Densy, 30

Hi Densy,

I’m sure many of our readers are in the same boat! Well done on recognising the signs, and choosing to make a change. You’re referring to the Luteal Phase—I like to call it the “self-care phase”.

During the Luteal Phase, there is a rise in progesterone and a drop in oestrogen, it’s around the 15-28 days phase (going off a regular 28-day female hormonal cycle). Sounds like you may be experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Fun, hey!

In the Luteal phase, I’d suggest:

  • Reducing your high intensity/impact load/circuits by 10-20% (depending on “feel”).
  • Change the resistance training to lighter weight and higher reps. Let your instructor know you’ll take it easy for a week.
  • Increasing body mobility training and de-loading joints—Pilates, Hydrolates (Pilates in the water), Yoga, etc.
  • More recovery days—maybe hike instead of run?
  • Be extra kind to yourself. Self-care habits are the key.
  • Pre-planning your month helps.

Love, Kirra

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