I have always loved to exercise and working with weights and my body weight has always been a major factor in my training programmes. I love the feeling of knowing I’m strong and when I was younger, it also meant I could also eat what I liked as my body was able to use it as fuel, keeping my weight stable. As I’ve gone through pregnancy and now peri-menopause, I find that my body is not quite as able to cope with the excess food and I’ve had to adapt my training so that I don’t succumb to excess weight and over fatigue which can lead to injury and illness. Probably like you, I’m a mum, I’ve elderly parents and I work, so it’s important that I don’t “burn the candle at both ends!” as there is too much to be done and I can’t afford to be ill or injured.
Having said all this, I still work with weights and body weight although I have cut back on the running, especially long runs – my back & knees don’t like it anymore so I enjoy taking part in HiiT and Zumba classes, both great for raising the heart rate. I’ve also devised a peri-menopause and menopause friendly 10-minute metabolic exercise programme that I repeat twice for a really good workout. It gets my heart racing, I get a sweat up and challenge my brain, I feel good afterwards, not exhausted and needing to sleep! This is so important whilst going through peri-menopause as we need to protect our adrenal and thyroid glands. Watch out in 2019 for the Metabolic Workout on my website.
Many professionals and usually those who have not studied exercise prescription, suggest that impact exercise such as running is the best form of exercise to prevent and even reverse the effects of osteoporosis in both men and women. However, they do forget that resistance training is also very important. Women need a combination of both. For peri-menopausal and menopausal women, resistance training is vital. For everyone to move, our muscles need to move and are attached to our skeletal bone by tendons. Every time you lift a weight or lift your body weight, your soft tissues such as tendons and muscles pull on the bone, which puts good stress on the skeleton and encourages the bone to build and stay strong. Having strong, toned muscles not only helps to make you feel good, but will help keep your skeleton moving and helps with balance as we age.
Aerobic exercise such as running, walking, dancing, Zumba-ing will condition your heart and lungs, which for women is fabulous as current statistics indicate that 1 in 2 of us will unfortunately suffer from a heart related condition as we age, add in resistance training and you have a total body workout to keep you strong, fit and young.
Women tend to worry about “bulking out” but you shouldn’t worry about becoming bulky or muscle bound either! As we age our testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen levels fluctuate and eventually decrease. Women naturally have lower testosterone than men, so unless they abuse steroids or have elevated levels through illnesses, women will not build huge muscles, but what will happen is your muscles will firm up and become stronger.
Going through peri-menopause and into menopause means that our hormones begin to reek havoc with our bodies, from our heart, brain and our bones, but it needn’t be a negative time. Exercise like that I’ve described above and positive thinking through meditation and relaxation can all work wonders and help aid us through this stage of our lives, helping us stay strong, decrease some of the symptoms that we may suffer such as hot flashes and protect us from disease and illness.
So if you are working at a desk, working from home, sit in a car most of the day getting into good exercise habits can be difficult and frustrating. However, it’s not impossible, we just need to think outside of the gym or class based exercise protocol.
I’ve found working from home quite difficult at times and so frustrating. I would find household tasks creeping in and I’d quite easily lose focus on what I was supposed to be doing. I needed to become disciplined and by setting my own lunch hours and breaks helped but trying to fit in a workout could prove difficult. I decided that if I was unable to attend the gym or class I could squeeze an exercise routine in somehow and here are a few things I bought to help me and I exercise every day.
Take up the challenge and bring back the vitality to your life.
- Stability Ball
This big, inflatable rubber ball goes by a host of names, including Swiss ball, stability ball, exercise ball and body ball, to name a few. It is terrific as a tool to help keep smaller “stabilizing” muscles strong. Make the most of it by using it in place of a desk chair to remind yourself to sit up straight since the stability ball has no back. In addition, by doing so, you will be making a multitude of minute adjustments all the time to keep yourself from rolling off while you work. If you are especially motivated, you can take breaks and perform various exercises, such as crunches for your abs.
Tip: Measure your desk before purchase so that you know what size stability ball to buy. I have an extra large one so I’m high enough to reach my desk. I also alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
- Kitchen Timer
A kitchen timer is another simple exercise tool for stay at home workers. Set one for every hour (or whatever you choose) to remind you to take needed breaks and stretch out a little bit. If you can, take a brisk walk around the block each time—it will add up to a pretty decent amount of exercise throughout the course of the day. You could use your phone, but I tend to switch mine off whilst i’m trying to work – I find it is too tempting to keep checking FB & Twitter.
Tip: Don’t rely on your actual kitchen timer. Take the plunge and invest in one just for office use, there are inexpensive and a great stocking filler.
- Exercise Bands
Inexpensive and compact, I love exercise bands as they can be stored in a desk drawer. Great for strength training exercises when taking breaks from work during the day. They can be utilized to work arm or leg muscles, and they come in varying amounts of resistance too, usually depending on colour. Yellow tends to be the easiest up to black, which usually offers the most resistance.
Tip: Hang them on your notice board as a reminder to get some activity during the course of the day.
- Free Weights
Free weights are fairly inexpensive and small, compared to barbells or home-gym systems. Store them under your desk, and use during those phone calls that seem to go on forever. Another great way to employ them is to do a set of repetitions both before and after “bathroom breaks.” This is a super way to add some exercise without taking up a lot of time.
Tip: Get two sets, one light and another that will push your muscles just a little harder for a bit of a challenge.
- Pedometre or Fitbit
These wonderful tools track your total step count for each day. Experts recommend getting 10,000 steps a day for health, so by using one of these you can see if you are getting enough exercise. Begin recording normal activity during an average week, and write down your daily step count. This will give you a baseline to start from. Try to increase the count gradually each week until you are getting the recommended amount or at least improving overall.
Tip: Make sure that you hang the pedometer on your waistband or wear your fitbit at all times!
Most of all have fun!
Hope you found this information of help and interest.