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Exercise and Aging: Women’s Edition

Hormonal Balance, Weight Management, and Fatigue in Perimenopause


By Dr. Grove Higgins and Coach Mary Wilson


Setting the Stage for Women's Health


Welcome to the journey of understanding some common health issues plaguing middle-aged and perimenopausal women. Women's health is a complex and multi-faceted area encompassing much more than just the physical body. It involves mental, emotional, and social aspects that all intertwine with the biological processes occurring within.


As women progress towards perimenopause, their bodies undergo significant changes, primarily driven by shifting hormone levels. Understanding these changes, especially those associated with hormonal imbalance can help us tackle unexplained fatigue and weight management problems.


Decoding Hormonal Imbalance: The Estrogen and Testosterone Connection


Hormonal imbalances often occur when the body's production of certain hormones gets out of sync. In women, the two key hormones at play are estrogen and testosterone. Yes, you read it right, testosterone is not exclusive to men! Women produce it, too, albeit in smaller amounts.


Estrogen, often called the 'female hormone,' is key to women's reproductive health. Its myriad benefits range from protecting heart health, maintaining bone density, and even impacting mood. However, during perimenopause, estrogen levels can fluctuate wildly, contributing to an array of symptoms, including fatigue and weight gain.


Conversely, testosterone helps maintain muscle mass, bone density, and sex drive in women. Most women’s testosterone comes from the conversion of estrogen to the test. Thus, as estrogen declines in perimenopause, this can also exacerbate symptoms of hormonal imbalance. However, exercise is a stimulus for increased testosterone production in both men and women. So, despite your age, there is the hope of reversing this trend.


Addressing Weight Management: A Key to Feeling and Staying Healthy


One common manifestation of hormonal imbalance is unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight. The hormonal changes in perimenopause particularly decreased estrogen and testosterone, can lead to increased fat storage and changes in body composition. Unfortunately, this puts even more stress on the body physically and physiologically, leading to pain, fatigue, and insulin resistance.


Managing weight during perimenopause doesn't have to be a daunting task. Start with small changes. A sugar-free diet and regular moderate exercise can make a huge difference.


Exercise for Hormonal Health: Building a Better Balance


Exercise is a cornerstone of good health, and its role in managing hormonal health is no different. Regular physical activity can help balance hormone levels and even stimulate the body to improve its hormonal health.


Cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging, or cycling are excellent for overall metabolic health. Weight-bearing exercises like weightlifting can help counteract the loss of muscle and bone density common in perimenopause. It also stimulates the production of more testosterone which inevitably leads to increased.


Embrace Your Health Journey - Its Never To Late To Start

Addressing women's health issues, especially those related to hormonal imbalances, is crucial for overall well-being. It is important to remember that it is never too late to start prioritizing your health. Every step is towards better health and a more enjoyable life, no matter how small.


Take control of your health. No matter your age, educate yourself, and, most importantly, listen to your body. After all, health is not a destination but a lifelong journey. We are here to help you!


References

  1. "The Menopause Years." ACOG. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/the-menopause-years (Accessed July 3, 2023)

  2. "Weight gain during menopause." Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menopause-weight-gain/art-20046058 (Accessed July 4, 2023)

  3. "Physical Activity and the Menopausal Transition: A Systematic Review." The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 73, Issue 8, August 2018, Pages 1159–1167, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glx172 (Accessed July 5, 2023)



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