Dr. Anan Mathre, Kindra healthcare advisor and physical therapist discusses the benefits of walking during menopause.
Walking is one of the most fundamentally functional movements of the human body. In other words, it’s one of the most common and useful movements we use in real-life situations. It’s not news that walking is healthy, but what are the ways that it can specifically help women during midlife with menopause concerns? Here, we’ll go over the five ways walking can improve your health from improving bone density to decreasing stress.
Use it or lose it.
The human body is predictable in one aspect - if we don’t practice a certain task or skill, we slowly over time get worse at it. Walking is one of the most important movements that our body does for us. As we age, if we become less active, we lose endurance and strength. Studies have shown that if we want to get better at a certain movement, the best way to achieve that goal is to practice that specific movement over and over. To keep our bodies functional and strong, routine walking is the way to go.
Walking can help to burn calories and stimulate weight loss.
Decreased estrogen during menopause can impact weight gain. Metabolism, the rate at which calories are burned by the body, can slow down. Although nutrition is a large part of weight loss, burning calories through regular walking can help to create a caloric deficit which leads to weight loss.
It’s a low-impact exercise that helps increase bone growth.
As we get older, bone density decreases. The loss of estrogen associated during menopause contributes to this bone loss. Decreased bone density means that bones get weaker and more susceptible to fractures. High impact exercises like jogging, dancing, stair climbing, and aerobic classes can be discouraged in those who already have lower bone density because of risk of injury. Low impact exercises like walking are great for everyone regardless of bone density because it is gentle enough on bones but still impacts stress (the good kind!) on bones which stimulates them to increase cell production and grow stronger and more dense.
Walking improves endurance, cardiovascular health, and lung health.
Walking targets and trains slow twitch muscle fibers which are responsible for long duration, lower intensity movement. They are in charge of working for a long time without getting tired. It also improves cardiovascular health because it increases the demand on the heart muscle to pump blood which strengthens the cardiovascular system. Similarly, brisk walking strengthens the lungs and increases lung capacity and function. Walking is a workout for your heart and lungs!
Menopause concerns like hot flashes, fatigue, restless sleep etc can improve with regular exercise.
Studies have shown that regular aerobic activity like walking can reduce some of the common concerns associated with menopause like hot flashes and difficulty sleeping at night. Moderate intensity exercise reduces cortisol levels and stress. If you’re experiencing low energy during menopause, increasing your daily walking might seem incredibly challenging but aerobic activity can boost energy levels. You might try pairing your walk with Kindra’s Focus supplement which helps with increased stamina and attention for improved mind-body connection. It's a great tool to boost motivation.
Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity walking, 5 days a week. Add in interval training or hills for an added challenge.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week for cardiovascular benefits. Moderate intensity exercise means that you’re working at an effort level where you should be able to talk, but not sing, and you should not be breathless. If this seems overwhelming, build up to this goal gradually.
Interval training, short periods of increased intensity followed by short periods of lower intensity, repeated over a period of time can be a fun mix up to your routine. Walking uphill and downhill can be an added challenge that stimulates bone growth even more because of the added demand on the body.