It is fair to state that this year has been a particularly challenging year for me. Money became a critical issue because I have been unable to find a path forward as a speaker, writer, or consultant. The publishers…
Before hormone balance can be a goal you need a clear definition of what it or hormone imbalance looks like! It’s never just hormones though is it? For the majority of women in midlife and beyond, there’s also a special condition, a joint issue, or a crazy schedule that also needs to be addressed.
If any of these describe you:
- You’re putting on weight lately no matter what you do
- You have belly fat even though you’re weight is OK
- You have cellulite on your thighs, belly, bum, or on your upper arms
- You can’t seem to develop any muscle tone in your legs
- You’ve got a saggy bum in spite of so many lunges and squats you can’t sit down
- You’ve turned up the exercise and eat carefully but still no results
- You’ve got saggy chest and neck skin
- You have touchy joints from prior or current injuries
- You have had breast cancer surgeries
- You’ve had other invasive surgery or joint replacement
- You have a chronic condition
- You can’t sleep well
- Even if you do sleep you don’t wake up refreshed
- You have high levels of stress right now
- You’ve tested your hormones and you’re “normal” but don’t feel it
- You still don’t have any idea how to exercise “normal” or not
- You have depression or anxiety
- You’re taking medications for the above or other things with side effects
- Your digestion is off (even if you thought that was “just me”): You don’t poo every day at least once (more is better); You have rabbits or pudding instead of snakes, You have gas or bloating you just tolerate
What you used to do doesn’t work any more.
Then this is definitely for you… if you want to change. Changing is the obstacle for a significant percent of women that express interest in change. If you aren’t willing to change habits, change beliefs, change what you eat and when, change how you exercise and when, then this will just be another blog. No set of exercises, videos, menu plans will ever help until you decide you are 100% in.
Throw Away the Textbook
Exercise for hormone balance is not your textbook exercise. “I’ve never heard that before,” is not a good excuse to dismiss something as true. How many research studies did you read last week about menopause, hormones, and exercise? They’re at anyone’s fingertips in today’s world. So holding onto old ideas without researching for yourself or finding a voice you trust instead of going by an outdated text is irresponsible. A published textbook is outdated by the time it goes to print. Research in this area is accelerating. Get help and get up to speed on research on hormone balance.
Approximately 6000 women a day go into menopause right now. That’s 2 million a year. Yet, 39% of all sports medicine and exercise research features females at all. It’s safe to say a small slice of that focuses on women in perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause and the hormones that influence and are influenced by her exercise.
It’s time to change the way we prescribe exercise during the change. If a woman begins perimenopause in her mid 40s and lives to her mid 80s she spends 40 years in menopause. Shouldn’t we be optimizing exercise for this large population of currently 38 baby boomer women, 25 million Gen X women and coming soon, an even larger number of millennial women? Fitness is either going to open a new level of health for women, who ultimately influence 80% of household decisions including health, or fail miserably. Conventional exercise prescriptions contribute to hormone imbalance.
Your hormone balance exercise
Start lifting weights focused on major muscle groups. Even if you swear by functional movement patterns, insulin, cortisol, and the half dozen more hormones that influence her fat and health are key for reducing risk of disease. Even if you want to tone those arms, you want to start with major muscle groups. Even if you want a flat belly, start with major muscle groups. Stop long slow exercise sessions and long endurance activity.
Increase your protein at every meal and eat regularly. Get to bed early and make sure you control your environment. If you love your wine or nightcap, you’ll want to stop that. All of these things kill testosterone, a key hormone for building lean tissue and libido. Testosterone gives you a kick of confidence too also important for libido.
These are but a few scenarios of exercise changes you can make for more hormone balance. Each woman has a unique set of health history, physical status, signs and symptoms that make her unique.
Want to learn more on this topic? Register for this FREE WEBINAR, presented by Debra Atkinson, Dr. Michelle Maddux and Danielle Spangler.
Debra Atkinson is the #youstillgotitgirl who is flipping 50 and changing the way thousands of women think about their second half. She’s the host of the Flipping 50 TV Show and the Flipping 50 podcast. As a master personal trainer, strength and wellness coach with over 30 years fitness industry experience, she works with women who are pro-aging with vitality and energy. She is an international fitness presenter, author of hundreds of articles and multiple books. Visit her website, flippingfifty.com
Many women post-pregnancy are very eager to rejoin the exercise world and at least resume the physical activities they once enjoyed prior to pregnancy. More and more women are seeking out fitness professionals or exercise programs to help them lose the baby weight and engage in safe and effective exercises. Many women understand the toll pregnancy and childbirth took on their bodies and they are ready and willing to seek out professional advice. Working with the postpartum client has benefits for both the trainer and the client. I encourage those who treat this population to get as much education in this area so you can better serve their needs.
Once you begin your journey caring for the postpartum client, there are several important factors to consider when beginning exercise program design.
First, remember she gave birth. Look at birth like any client who is rehabilitating from any type of injury or surgery. The postpartum phase is typically the first 12 months after having a baby but can be longer if a woman is nursing.
Second, consider how long it has been since exercise has been part of her regular routine. Even if she exercised regularly during pregnancy, she probably was limiting the intensity compared to her pre-pregnant self. Keeping that in mind, it may feel like for you (and her) that you are working on a beginner level as you begin.
Third, it’s really important to know the type of birth the woman had and how it affected her pelvic floor muscles. Obviously for vaginal birth pelvic floor prolapse, vaginal tearing or possible Pubic Symphosis diastasis could have occurred. For women who have gone through a cesarean (C-section), the abdominal muscles have been affected through the incision made into the abdominal wall and uterus.
Fourth, it is vital to understand the fitness level of the woman prior to pregnancy and the activities in which she participated. The fitness level or prior activities or sports in which she participated could shape the type of recommended exercises in her program.
Finally, consider any injuries or medical history that may affect her current fitness especially if she has been inactive or just returning back into exercise. Many of this information may be obtained in your initial meeting or phone consultation. You can use a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire) to access this information. I suggest customizing the Par-Q to be very postpartum specific and asking detailed questions about pregnancy and delivery before you begin treatment.
Considering all of these factors, lets now look at how to exercise safely and effectively following delivery.
Start with basic range of motion exercises and corrective, posture-based movements that will help her body begin to feel restored. A little movement goes a long way.
Get to Know Her Limitations
As with other injuries, or surgeries, childbirth is comparable for your client as her body is still healing, hormones are still adjusting that affect range of motion, core is weak and most women are sleep deprived for months after giving birth. With this in mind, her balance and equilibrium are affected. Careful of movements that change position briskly or go from standing to lying.
Establish Realistic Expectations
Develop reasonable exercise goals for your client. Along with her physical health, mental health is also affected.
Exercise is directly linked in helping to prevent postpartum depression, however, setting fitness goals may create anxiety or worsen her mental state, so be sensitive to this. Start with manageable times to exercise during the week. As the client become stronger you can increase the number of days you exercise per week in addition to the exercise intensity.
Create a Supportive Network
Connecting clients who are going through similar life experiences may help motivate them to exercise more regularly and in a small group setting the cost is usually less per person and more efficient for the trainer for the hour. This may also help give the client additional accountability.
Teach Sustainable Lifestyle Habits
Help your client embrace this journey as a marathon rather than a sprint. Explain that the baby weight will come off but the end goal is to do this safely and cautiously. You must be ready to advise on sustainable, healthy eating habits and adapt if the woman is nursing.
Want to learn more on this topic? Register for this FREE WEBINAR, presented by Danielle Spangler, Debra Atkinson and Dr. Michelle Maddux.
Danielle Spangler, C.PT, has been a fitness professional for over 20 years. Danielle is the creator of “Coremom” (Corrective Obstetrical Related Exercises) for purposes of creating a pre and postnatal small group-training program in a variety of fitness facilities. Danielle’s goal is to train other qualified fitness professionals and group exercise instructors on teaching pre and postnatal small group exercise classes using her method. Visit her website, daniellespangler.com
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Humanity is racing toward a brain-health crisis, according to the World Health Organization. The number of people with dementia is expected to triple in the next three decades.
The helpful news from WHO is this: Exercise plays a key role in fighting cognitive decline and dementia.
So, those of us in the fitness industry have a greater chance than ever to make a big impact by including brain health in our training and interactions with people over 50.
That’s the message of Ryan Glatt, a brain health coach at the Pacific Brain Health Center. Ryan and the Functional Aging Institute worked together to bring you the Brain Health Trainer Certification. It’s a unique program that teaches about the connections between brain and body health – and about how fitness professionals can help mature adults with both.
“We can play a significant role in delivering exercise interventions for the primary outcome of brain health, and not just as a secondary benefit of exercising,” Ryan says. “We need to do more.”
Fitness professionals have three steps to follow, he says.
- Educating the public about the cognitive benefits of exercise.
- Referring people with possible cognitive decline to doctors for early intervention – much like physical therapists refer patients to relevant medical professionals.
- Building exercise programming to create primary brain-health results.
Trainers need to encourage clients to have a well-rounded exercise routine that includes balance, resistance training, and cardio work. It helps to know how some activities can have specific benefits on memory, attention and other brain functions. That includes, for instance, dance, sports and martial arts, which involve some level of choreography, which is good for the memory.
Even in initial assessments with prospective clients, fitness pros can learn to raise the topic, Ryan says. For example, if a prospect in her 50s says she wants to lose weight, you can bring up the topic of brain health even at that early stage. “There’s a growing body of research that links exercise to brain health,” you might say. “Does that sound like something you’d like to work on, as well?”
That can open the conversation to topics that might indicate a referral is necessary – or help you build a fitness program to address them.
“We like to tell people that exercise will help them be able to play with their grandkids,” Ryan points out. “But we can also help train them so that they also can remember their grandkids’ names better.”
Join Ryan Glatt for the upcoming webinar on this topic, Cognitive Fitness: Modifying Your Exercise Variables for Brain-Based Outcomes
Brain health is a big, rich topic that we’re going to be hearing more about. Any fitness professional helping mature people live well should be educated on how to help with their brain health, too.
Ryan Glatt, FAFS, BSc is a psychometrist and Brain Health Coach at the Brain Health Center in the Pacific Neuroscience Institute. With a strong background in exercise science and human health, Ryan develops curricula specifically targeted towards those with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and traumatic brain injury, coaching individuals towards optimal brain health. He is the author of the Brain Health Trainer Course with Functional Aging Institute.