Research has found that women who remain physically active have fewer and more mild menopause symptoms like hot flashes and insomnia than women who are sedentary. There are three main types of exercise that can help you age gracefully and feel as young as you are at heart: aerobic exercise like walking for heart health, strength training for healthy bones and muscles, and stretching exercises for better flexibility.
Here are some effective stretches and yoga poses that can help balance fluctuating hormones. Before you begin, it may help to start by sitting cross-legged on a mat and taking three deep breaths with your eyes closed to focus your mind and body.
Standing Forward Bend
Begin by standing at the front of the mat with your feet hip-width apart. Reach up with your left arm, stretching your left side, and hold for a single breath. Slowly lower your arm and repeat with your right side. Next, bend forward from your hips to bring your chest toward your knees. Bend your knees slightly while holding your elbows with the opposite hands. Shake your head side to side gently and hold the position for 45 seconds before rolling up to a standing position.
An electric shock sensation in the legs is a fairly common symptom of menopause. You can reduce these episodes with hip flexors that relieve tension in your muscles. Begin by leaning forward on your right leg while keeping your left leg straight behind you in a lunge. Press your hips forward just until you feel the stretch down the front of your thigh. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then repeat on the other leg.
Hero Pose and Arm Raise
Kneel on a mat with your butt resting on your heels and your hands on top of your thighs with the palms down. Slowly lift your hips to keep your body in a straight line from the head to the knees. Raise your hands upward while keeping your arms straight. Hold for 10 seconds then lower to the start position and repeat 5 times.
The downward-facing dog position is one of the most well-known yoga positions and it can be a great way to reduce stress that may trigger menopause symptoms like hot flashes and leg shocks. This full-body stretch can also help you retain your flexibility. Begin on your hands and knees, keeping your knees right underneath your hips. Next, spread your palms out and exhale while you lift your knees into an inverted-V with your body. Keep your back straight and straighten your legs as much as you can without pain. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
If you aren’t comfortable trying yoga positions or stretches on your own, consider joining a yoga class for women at your local YMCA or gym. While yoga may not help with moderate to severe menopause symptoms, it can ease mild and uncomfortable symptoms and make the transition easier. If you are struggling with more serious symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, foggy thinking, and vaginal symptoms, it may be a good idea to consider hormone therapy in addition to yoga. Yoga can be a complementary form of therapy that works with hormone replacement to support a healthy body and mind.
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