In an ideal world, living healthfully would happen throughout your lifetime. But since our world is not ideal or perfect and since bodily changes happen with maturity, we’re bound to fall short of living as healthy as we should. Take for example women and perimenopause. Talk about a hormonal roller coaster ride. Night sweats, heavy periods, forgetfulness, enhanced anxiety; any of these can be symptoms that perimenopause has arrived. If they haven’t already, now is the time women should do what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is a time of hormonal peaks and valleys but is a normal, transitional stage in a woman’s reproductive life that begins on average, 4 to 5 years before menopause. During this time, your ovaries gradually produce less estrogen, causing follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) – which are responsible for growing and developing eggs – to rise and menstrual cycles to shorten.
Most women begin perimenopause in their forties but it can start as early as mid-thirties. While it is a perfectly natural phase of a woman’s life, it is not always easy to get through. Many women have many symptoms causing a great deal of suffering while other women experience hardly any symptoms at all.
Why it’s important to live healthfully during perimenopause
This transitional phase from child-bearing years to eventually entering menopause is critical to a woman’s long-term health. Numerous bodily changes are happening that include decreasing levels of estrogen, possible excessive weight gain, loss of muscle mass, or getting diagnosed with a chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or chronic kidney disease.
Perimenopause certainly has its challenges but also reminds women that good health habits matter. With healthy lifestyle changes, women can overcome the negative factors associated with perimenopause and instead live their best years yet. Yes, women will transition during this time but it’s a perfect time for embracing healthy choices setting a healthy tone for the second half of their life.
What it takes to living healthfully during perimenopause
Every woman’s experience of perimenopause is unique. But the following lifestyle habits getting through this time applies to all women, no matter their current health status. While there is no magic bullet of what works for one woman will always work for another, the more positive healthy lifestyle changes a woman makes will add up to long-term health benefits.
Here are some secrets women can do to make the perimenopause transition easier in order to remain as healthy as possible:
Start getting regular physicals
Beginning at some point during their 40’s, women should see their primary care doctor at least every 2 years if not annually. It’s important to keep track of certain health parameters such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight. Speaking of weight, perimenopause can be a prime time for weight gain. Between work, childcare and possibly caring for elderly parents, maintaining a healthy body weight can be a struggle. By seeing their primary care physician regularly, weight gain should be addressed as it could be related to thyroid issues or diabetes which can be checked for with routine blood work.
Stay physically active
Consistent exercise is one of the best health habits a woman can do. Exercise helps improve heart health, mood, sex drive, maintains muscle mass and prevents osteoporosis. Most days, if not every day of the week, a woman should be moving her body at least 30 minutes or more. Walking, bicycling, or swimming is excellent for improving cardio fitness. Just as important is to be pumping iron. As women approach menopause, they will begin to lose muscle mass. Loss of muscle mass will make women weaker and lowers metabolism or the rate at which they burn calories. Yoga is another good way to engage muscles and core to improve strength and metabolism. Yoga has also been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms such as brain fog, hot flashes, and insomnia.
Cut back on sugary foods and beverages
The ultimate in maintaining good health begins with making healthy food choices. Sounds easy but can be harder to put into practice. When we’re in our twenties and possibly thirties, if physically active, most of us can eat what we want without too much interference with weight gain. But by your forties, it’s going to take a more purposeful attempt to adhere to a stricter dietary plan and exercise to keep weight gain at bay. For women, significantly reducing sugary foods and beverages along with alcohol consumption will be necessary to keep healthy body weight. Foods and beverages of empty calories with little nutritional value are not a friend to metabolism or health. On special occasions, they can be enjoyed in small amounts but not on an everyday basis. Focus on eating five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Also limit fried foods, processed foods and refrain from following any type of fad diet. Now, more than ever, women should find a sustainable, healthy way of eating lasting them a lifetime.