Our bodies are continuously changing and adapting. This becomes particularly noticeable after the “big 4-0” when we start to experience more hormonal fluctuations. At this stage in our lives, our bodies are in a transitional period, and it is important to recognise these shifts and address them proactively. It is usually around this time you start to notice that your old exercise routine and eating habits are no longer working for you in the same way. You are left wondering why you used to be able to eat a pint of ice cream and not gain weight but now just looking at the tub makes you gain 2 kgs instantly. Welcome to perimenopause!
The combination of diet, lifestyle and exercise needs to be addressed to accommodate the hormonal shifts in your body. Cardio, although hugely beneficial for heart health and still necessary, isn’t going to produce the weight loss results that it once used to. For the 40+ body, you need to look at strength and resistance training instead for shifting weight. By building muscle, you will burn more calories and increase your metabolism helping with the dreaded “meno-belly.”
Bone density is an important issue that women need to consider seriously as we get older. You are probably picturing an 80-year-old woman hunched over and wondering how this is relevant to you right now. Unfortunately, bone density begins to deteriorate from the age of 30 and is significantly accelerated by menopause. The good news is that you can slow this process by incorporating weight-bearing exercise into your routine.
Stress is another factor that needs our attention as we enter this next phase. Many women find this time of our lives particularly stressful. There can often be a feeling of overwhelm as we juggle the demands of family, including our own children as well as our ageing parents, hormonal changes and associated symptoms that affect sleep like hot flushes and anxiety, career transitions and many more stressors. Establishing ways to de-stress has never been so important.
Making time for yourself needs to become a priority. Incorporating mindful exercise has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve attention and memory, and promote overall well-being.
So what does any of this have to do with Pilates?
Pilates is defined as “a system of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness.”
These exercises promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion. All things that women of any age will benefit from but especially as we get older. They are low impact and gentle for the body and can also be adapted for each individual. This makes Pilates suitable for everyone from elite athletes to couch potatoes - all body shapes, sizes and fitness levels welcomed.
Pilates works on strengthening your body as a whole and uses gravity and your own bodyweight to provide resistance. This is exactly what your body needs for increasing bone density and maintaining healthy bones. In addition, the strength training component, especially when combined with additional resistance like hand weights or bands, is an ideal form of exercise to help with weight loss.
Pilates focuses on the deep stabilising muscles in your body so requires attention and focus to coordinate your movement with your breath. This inward focus will boost your mindfulness, allowing you to become more aware of what you're sensing and feeling. This mindfulness allows your body and mind to relax, which in turn helps to reduce stress.
Pilates, by increasing your energy and body confidence, will contribute to an overall increase in your sense of well-being. By committing to a daily or weekly session, you are creating valuable time for yourself, which is also supporting your body and mind. All these benefits combined make Pilates an ideal “one-stop-shop” solution for the 40+ body.
If you are interested in learning more about Pilates and the benefits, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 30-minute assessment.
Go to my website www.justpilates.uk for further class details.
I also provide information specifically relating to Menopause in my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/positivechangepilates