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in our lives, all the other systems in the body will work more according to plan. Simply taking a daily walk helps balance brain chemistry,” says Markovitch, who specializes in improving fitness levels for women over 40. “Walking is fitness magic, whether it’s on a treadmill, outside or in the pool. Get your heart rate into an aerobic zone, preferably for 30 to 45 minutes. I’ve heard testimony aſter testimony of im- proved sleep, less back or joint pain and better mood.” She also suggests adding a few weekly sessions of resistance training to daily walks. Most health professionals agree that bal-


ance is the key. Jeanne D. Andrus, a meno- pause expert and author of I Just Want to Be ME Again, in Covington, Louisiana, recommends cardio, resistance training and exercise that increases flexibility and core strength. “For a beginner, this may include two to four days of walking, one to three days of strength training and one to three days of yoga or Pilates, with the goal being three and a half hours of activity per week.” Of course, all of these need to be at ap-


propriate levels for the woman’s condition and goals,” advises Andrus. According to studies led by Helen


Jones, Ph.D., from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liver- pool John Moores University, UK, three, 30-to-45-minute aerobic sessions a week reduced hot flashes and yielded the most significant results.


Go Easy While some conventional approaches suggest vigorous exercise, many holistic professionals caution against extremes.


“It’s important to individualize, and in my ongoing research it’s clear that the high-in- tensity strength and sculpting approach so oſten promoted and perceived as necessary to maintain shape, weight and health is a myth,” says Dr. Eden Fromberg, an obstetri- cian, gynecologist and founder of Holistic Gynecology New York, in Manhattan. Instead, Fromberg recommends an


integrated approach to exercise that sup- ports connective tissue and joints. While some forms of exercise including yoga are perceived as gentler than others, she warns against an all-or-nothing strategy, noting,


May 2018 15


“Intense, deep stretching and joint-strain- ing may cause injury more easily during hormonal transition.” Andrus concurs, “If high cortisol levels


are involved and accompanied by insomnia, stress placed on the body by rigorous exer- cise will increase these levels and actually lower available energy.” She also advises adopting a non-aggressive approach for osteoporosis. “Weight-bearing exercise is a must, but if bone loss is already present, start much more gradually to ensure that bones are protected.”


Lighten Up Exercise can be more enjoyable than doing chores. Recreational activities such as danc-


ing, biking or hopping on the swings at the playground are fun ways to do something good for both body and spirit. Menopause can be a time for personal


expansion and an invitation for self-care that might have been neglected or post- poned. Fromberg believes we can all revital- ize our resources at any stage of life, and the years surrounding menopause call for us to tune into ourselves even more. “What seems like a disruption is an opportunity to listen deeply and reimagine and reorga- nize one’s life on physical, emotional and spiritual levels.”


Marlaina Donato is a freelance writer, author and multimedia artist. Connect at MarlainaDonato.com.


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