How can exercise help the menopause?

20 Oct 2023 07:30AM by Siew-Ching Leong - Personal Trainer

exercise during menopause

World Menopause Day falls on 18 October every year. It’s a chance to debunk some common myths and spread more information about what menopause is and what it means for you. At Virgin Active, our Personal Trainers specialise in many things, including those who have an interest in supporting women with their health through their 40s and 50s. Siew-Ching Leong is one of those Personal Trainers. She’s passionate about helping women in this age group maintain a healthy lifestyle in the face of increased pressure from help risks associated with the onset of menopause and perimenopause. 

We spoke to her to find out how the menopause can affect your fitness and what you can do to support yourself. 

What is the menopause?

The menopause is a natural part of growing older that happens to women around their 40s and 50s when their hormone levels start to lower. It’s characterised by a loss of essential hormones including oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone which regulate some of the body’s key functions, including the reproductive system. 

You might be perimenopausal or heading into the menopause if you notice yourself getting hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes, tiredness and insomnia, difficult concentration, joint pain and more. (Of course, if you experience any of these symptoms and believe you may be going through the menopause, we recommend to speak to your GP.) 

How might the menopause affect my health?

During the menopause, you might notice a few things change in your body. A lower level of oestrogen in your body could result in: 

  • Weaker bone density, which could put you more at risk for Osteoporosis and bone fractures
  • Decreased muscle mass and strength
  • Decreased metabolic rate, which could lead to weight gain 
  • Weaker pelvic support structures, which could increase your risk of pelvic organ prolapse
  • Weaker arterial walls, increasing your risk of  high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. 

Why might exercise be helpful?

Exercise can counteract some of the effects of the menopause and support your time during it. That’s because exercise: 
  • Improves your bone & heart health
  • Improves your strength & helps with muscle loss
  • Improves your mood
  • Improves sleep
  • Increases your energy levels

What types of exercise are most beneficial?

Strength training or resistance training

This form of exercise is important during menopause to combat muscles loss.  Strength training involves using your own bodyweight, dumbbells, and other weights (including resistance bands) to build muscle mass, strength and endurance. Strength training also improves bone density, cardiovascular health and helps to maintain healthy joints.

Weight bearing exercises

Any exercises that work against the forces of gravity falls under this category. The impact of these exercises send stimulus to the bones to build tissue. Walking, running/jogging, hiking, climbing stairs, gardening are some examples of weight bearing exercises.

Exercises for improving balance, flexibility, stability and co-ordination

Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi are exercises that should also feature in your weekly exercise regime.  These forms of exercises are great for improving balance, flexibility, and co-ordination. They strengthen your core, pelvic floor muscles and can support your mental health. 


Alongside exercise, there are plenty of other ways to manage the effects of the menopause including eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting the right amount of sleep for you and being mindful to look after your wellbeing. If you would like help with achieving your goals, don't forget, our Personal Trainers are here to help. 

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