20 Plus a Day. Short and Sweet, Little and often.
I was so chuffed to be invited to introduce my latest ‘challenge’ to the wonderful Kaleidoscopes, a peri – and menopause support group, recently at their monthly support meeting. It led me to share the benefits of an exercise ‘challenge’, which may be suitable and well designed to support women through this stage of life. I developed my 20 Plus A Day challenge (#20PlusADay) to highlight that even 20 minutes of physical exercise, which can gently increase the heart rate,* could be more beneficial to the changing body, than a programme of one hour+ high intensity sessions on a frequent – or not so frequent (for the time poor amongst us!) – basis. I’m particularly talking to those who don’t already have a fitness plan in place, or could be something to consider if you’re already doing one or two hours each week and would like to increase this.
Fitness and the menopause
Here are a few key points to highlight of how the body is transitioning through the menopause, and how fitness can support the symptoms and changes, and therefore why it’s a good idea to get ahead and start preparing the body through fitness during the peri-menopause phase:
- The symptoms of menopause are quite often a result of estrogen imbalance. Exercise is proven to be a powerful practice to combat these symptoms – getting your heart rate up for at least a half hour every day helps boost estrogen levels, which can help take the edge off.
- Muscle tissue depletes faster as we transition through menopause and beyond – strength based training is highly recommended to keep replenishing and maintaining muscle mass.
- Increased risk of osteoporosis in the years following menopause – exercise boosts the circulation of blood through the body, nourishing and strengthening the bones, and strengthening the muscles, will also support the bones.
- Body shape or type is likely to change. Women feel and look physical different as belly fat can increase and be harder to shift – Light aerobic, cardio activity and strength based training is proven to be more beneficial at burning belly fat than long, endurance fitness types such as running.
Pilates is a key go to fitness type for women transitioning through peri-menopause into the menopause as Pilates focuses on strengthening the muscles and joints, burning body fat, helping to develop muscle mass with the right diet, and some Pilates exercises provide a gentle cardio benefit. The continuous movement and breath work involved in Pilates will increase circulation and kickstart the metabolism in the body, helping with fat and calorie burning goals.
I designed the #20PlusADay challenge with two targets in mind:
Short and sweet – As the research shows that shorter bursts of activity are more beneficial than long, endurance fitness types for women experiencing the menopause; and/or
I don’t have time for fitness – people who struggle to find time for a dedicated fitness plan, or who already have maybe a favourite fitness class once a week, and would like to increase activity, showing how we can make fitness more manageable, to prove we don’t have to specifically get our lycra on or even get in the car to go to a gym. We can build fitness in small, manageable chunks of time as frequently as possible. Sometimes we don’t have to make it a big heave-ho to fit in the fitness, which can, to some, seem impractical – to some – impossible!
20 Plus a day could be interpreted as eg 20+mins walking, light jog, 20+ reps of press ups, squats, or 20 secs of plank after a warm up and if 20 is feeling too tame, you’re not noticing a difference in your fitness level, or you have more time, why not increase this to 30! This challenge is the springboard to build upon and make fitness a regular habit. Start building up intensity in those 20 mins and work towards the recommendation of a minimum of 30 mins 5 times a week. Contact me if you’re not sure what would work best for your body*
Make fitness manageable for you. Try my 20 plus a day challenge #20plusaday and see what health and fitness goals you can achieve in 2023 through ‘little and often’.
Ways to make a start this February:
⚡️ Mama Strength Spark – see what a month of unlimited online Pilates can do for you;
💪🏻 121 options to fit around your schedule in person in my studio Buckingham, or online options available;
*check with a medical pro if you’re suffering from any pre-existing health condition, have just recently had a baby, or are recovering from an injury. Contact me here if you’re not sure and would like to chat more.
More suggestions about how to make the 20 Plus a Day work for you, inspiration for how to mix and match different movement types, and how to interpret the 20 Plus a Day can be found on my social media platforms – search @dancingmamafitness on Facebook and Instagram.