Above photo: I was in my early fifties before I ran my first marathon for Leukemia’s Team in Training in Alaska. I was in great shape, physically and emotionally, because I had been on a regiment of exercise for several years.
I remember well how I felt when menopause hit, not just with the hot flashes, hormonal fluctuations and myriad of other problems. I remember feeling like I was losing control of my body and damn, I didn’t much like that! My body was taking over. I had never been over-weight in my life. I had never thought, therefore, that I needed to exercise. But, not knowing what else to do, I decided to get on an exercise regiment. Tone up, winsocki, tone up!
So I began with the easiest thing I could imagine: walking. I didn’t know it at the time, but walking is the number-ONE exercise you can do. It affects everything in your body, and it is actually better for you than jogging or running. I started with 45 minutes of what I considered fast walking. next I worked my way up to what most would consider a much faster pace.
I found I rather liked being out there in the early morning with other athletes. They were good company. After about a month of improving my pace, I added in 45 minutes of biking. I was returning to my youth! Then a month or so later, I added 45 minutes of swimming. I love swimming until this day. My then housekeeper and still friend, Pam, told me my butt was lifting. I laughed and responded that one can’t reverse the effects of gravity. Then my husband walked by and said Pam was right. My touche was higher. Damn, I was proud!
And so began the regiment I would follow for some fifteen years.
Something happened to me with all this exercise. I felt more in control of my body than I ever did. I was healthier and happier and more contented because of it. As I walked, peddled and swam I wrote in my head my first book “Towards The Sun” in these two plus hours of daily exercising. I would return home, shower, eat breakfast and start writing. Life was good!
There are more books on the benefits of exercise than Carter has pills. But here is a few reasons you should exercise regularly whether or not you are in menopause:
1. Good rituals lead to good health.
2. Regular exercise decreases the risk of breast cancer considerably (by @30%)!
3. It keeps estrogen levels normal.
4. It encourages a companion of better nutrition, which, of course, leads to more improved health. Suddenly, you want that apple instead of that candy bar.
5. Twenty percent of women between 45-65 have mild to severe high blood pressure, which can be lowered by regular exercise.
6. Movement keeps the blood flowing to all your organs and brings nutrients and oxygen to your tissues.
7. Exercise provides all cardiovascular benefits attributed to estrogen and significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, hypertension and stroke. (according to Christiane Northrup, MD, author of “The Wisdom of Menopause”)
There are endless more reasons, of course, but isn’t that enough?
We don’t have to be our mothers. We don’t have to be our grandmothers. We do need to be all we can, that in being all we can, we are, indeed, ourselves.
Next blog: How exercise helps the brain function, depression, etc.