Female health in your 50s
Stay fit and healthy throughout your fifties
While the average woman reaches menopause at 52 years old, the changes associated with the menopause can begin earlier. During this ‘peri-menopause’ stage, levels of the female hormones are depleting, influencing everything from mood to fat distribution, and causing unwelcome affects such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
Symptoms vary widely from woman to woman, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that regular aerobic exercise can soften the experience of the menopause. After the menopause, the two big players in terms of exercise for health are bone density and heart health, as the sudden depletion of estrogen causes problems in both of these areas.
Balancing skills also begin to wobble in our 50s, putting us at risk of falls in later life, and of becoming less active due to a fear of falling. But a study at the University of Connecticut found that balance can be markedly improved by a number of different exercise techniques, including working with a balance board, doing simple balancing poses, and doing resistance training and/or Tai Chi. In the study, balance had improved by 25 to 50 per cent by the end of a three-month training period.
How can I maintain my health?
Walking, swimming, cycling, aerobics and/or running are great for preventing peri-menopausal symptoms, including weight gain and low mood. They will also help you maintain a healthy cardiovascular system beyond the menopause. To keep your bones healthy in your 50s, you’ll also need to do some weight-bearing exercise. One effective solution is to do some strength training — which, as well as keeping your bones healthy, will keep you toned and use all of your body’s major muscles and joints, so that you maintain optimal mobility.