Around 25 per cent of women don’t experience symptoms as they go through menopause. For those that do, around 25 percent of them say their symptoms are severe. The list of potential menopause symptoms is vast and can affect pretty much every part of the body. These symptoms can certainly have a knock on effect to your ability to keep running, and to enjoy running.
Many women run less or even stop running due to perimenopausal symptoms. This is tragic because running, and exercise in general, is a really helpful tool for managing the menopause and for setting you up for a healthy future.
When you feel like stopping or are wondering if ten minutes up and down the road when your joints ache is really worth it, it helps to know how much good it’s doing you.
Last week I shared six mental health reasons why it’s worth keeping on running through the menopause and today I’m turning to the physical health reasons.
Here are my top 6 reasons to keep running through the menopause:
1. Bone health
1 in 3 women over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis, a condition where bone density is low and bones are more fragile and break easily. We naturally lose bone mass as we age, particularly around the menopause so we need to take action. Bones get stronger when they’re stressed and high impact activity such as running is ideal for helping you to maintain your bone mass.
2. Muscle health
In addition to losing bone mass, we lose muscle mass as we age too. Low muscle mass (sarcopenia) makes us less stable and more prone to falling but it also increases our risk of lots of major diseases. Muscles are so important for good all round health. Running helps to maintain muscle mass and sprint work and hills will help to build it too.
3. Heart health
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death of women around the world. Running regularly will help to reduce our risk of heart disease. Heart muscle becomes stronger and more efficient, blood pressure lowers and our blood vessels stay healthier when we lead an active life. Running also helps to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, control weight and makes it easier to stop smoking, all of these reduce the risk of heart disease.
4. Brain health
In England, more women die from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than any other cause. It’s vital that we address our brain health, particularly as we age. The Alzheimer’s Society state that regular exercise can reduce the risk of dementia by 30 per cent and of Alzheimer’s specifically, by 45 per cent. Running with others can reduce isolation and keeps us fit to participate fully in life which helps to reduce dementia risk.
5. General health
There are so many ways that running can improve your general health. It is known to lower your risk of many long term health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and stroke. Running regularly will also help to keep your joints healthy and lower the risk of you needing a joint replacement. In truth, it’s hard to find a health condition that running doesn’t help with!
6. Your future health
It’s not just about how you feel right now, it’s about how you will feel in the future. Your ability to remain independent and be able to look after yourself relies heavily on your physical fitness. To reach a cupboard, pick something up off the floor, get to the toilet and stop yourself from falling over are all examples of things that seem easy now but may not be quite so simple in years to come. Know that every effort you take now to remain a runner, even when it’s hard, will be making a difference to your future health. Thank goodness for running!
Having said this, despite knowing these facts, it’s still incredibly hard to stay motivated to run, especially when menopause symptoms are making it difficult. If you need some motivation and would like to get my free weekly tips and advice then sign up for my newsletter below.