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Navigating Peri/menopause: Approaches to muscle health

Meet Amy, a 48 year old seasoned gym-goer facing sleep issues, fluctuating gut health, frequent blood sugar crashes, and soaring hot flashes. Despite her dedication to weightlifting, Amy has discovered that peri/menopause doesn't discriminate, affecting muscle health and blood pressure alike.

In the quest for answers, Amy, like many women, found herself grappling with challenges unique to peri/menopause. The hormonal shifts during this phase can lead to blood glucose regulation issues, impacting even dedicated athletes like her.

Peri/menopause brings about changes in muscle mass and strength due to the influence of estrogen on muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.

Even women engaging in intensive workouts like Amy may find themselves fatigued and unaware that their usual recovery strategies may need adjustments. Recent research highlights the importance of factors like Vitamin D levels, iron, soy isoflavones, and nutrition for muscle contraction capability and recovery.

Peri/menopause introduces a natural decline in muscle mass and strength, impacting blood vessels. For women experiencing insomnia, elevated blood pressure can hinder exercise tolerance, potentially leading to over-training syndrome. The challenge for many women is understanding how to maintain muscle mass during peri/menopause.
Navigating Peri/menopause: Approaches to muscle health

Factors influencing muscle health include sleep duration, menopausal stage, Vitamin D levels, iron levels, protein intake, recovery practices, and overall nutrition. Additionally, pre and peri and post menopausal women may need to explore Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) with their doctors, as estrogen plays a crucial role in muscle mass growth.

Understanding the intricate relationship between peri/menopause, muscle mass, and blood pressure is crucial. Resistance training's impact on blood pressure varies based on several factors, and awareness of these dynamics is vital, especially for women facing insomnia.

Preventing muscle loss during peri/menopause requires a holistic approach. Factors such as sleep quality, menopausal stage, Vitamin D levels, iron levels, protein intake, recovery practices, carbohydrate consumption, HRT, and the right supplements play crucial roles.

Navigating Peri/menopause: Approaches to muscle health

Addressing muscle health during peri/menopause involves recognizing the decline in Type 2 muscle fibers, which are vital for power and strength. Estrogen, IGF-1, and nerve health are essential components. Calcium intake is equally important for muscle function, and its deficiency can affect muscle speed, strength, and balance.

As women age, the challenge is to combat inflammatory changes and muscle decline, exacerbated by factors like insomnia, night sweats, and heavy training. Myofascial release and massage become vital tools in managing muscle recovery.

While research on women and heavy exercise during peri/menopause is continually emerging, the decline in muscle mass after the 3rd decade of age is well-established.

Women must adapt their exercise routines to mitigate muscle loss, considering factors like Vitamin D absorption and skin changes.

Navigating Peri/menopause: Approaches to muscle health

As we approach peri/menopause, incorporating strategies to counter muscle mass decline becomes imperative. Despite the aches and fatigue, the right exercise can enhance overall health. It's essential to strike a balance, focusing on activities that promote mitochondrial health, protein turnover, and nerve signaling.

Our peri/menopause transition is a critical time to introduce strategies to mitigate the changes in muscle mass and function that contribute to physical disability and frailty later in life.

But many of us find that our joints and muscles ache and we don’t have the time, energy or motivation to exercise.

Physical activity participation research supports this in midlife too. However, the right amount and type of exercise during peri/menopause can assist us into improved health as we age. Therefore, we have to progressively explore turning around our symptoms so that we sleep all night, lose some weight if we need to and reduce the rate of muscle loss and weakness.

We all know that physical activity is ‘good’ for us but here's the key - you should feel muscle fatigue - NOT exhaustion! Nope we don't have to do the same volume and intensity that a bodybuilder does. But if we can do enough exercise to promote mitochondrial health, increase protein turnover in muscles, thus aiding repair, and restore nerve signaling involved in muscle contraction and function, through regular aerobic activity at least 2x a week we'll reap the benefits.

Ageing has become an important topic for scientific research, including muscular and strength research because life expectancy and the number of men and women in older age groups have increased dramatically in the last century.

Muscle strength and function is an increasingly important topic in exercise science, because by 2050, the world’s population over 60 years will double from about 11% to 22%. This means that there will be 2 billion people aged 60 or older living on this planet. Approximately 400 million will be 80 years or older, over half of them women. Understanding how much your muscle strength and function change as you age matters.

Women, in particular, must prioritize maintaining lean muscle mass to remain resilient and relevant as they age. So how do we boost our resilience? By maintaining lean muscle mass against the loss of it!

Navigating peri/menopause requires a multifaceted approach to muscle health. By addressing sleep, nutrition, hormone levels, and exercise, we can empower ourselves to age gracefully and maintain our vitality!

Watch for details on my upcoming webinar workshop series including topics like "Weight Loss After 40" and more!

Julie xo


If you'd like a way to achieve muscle benefits without the EXHAUSTION please consider joining my December kickstart (which includes a free 1:1 coaching call with me!) by signing up HERE.

- book a 1 on 1 coaching call with me (now 25% off) HERE.


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