#5.1 Exercise midlife - time to change it up?

I remember as a younger fitness and Pilates teacher being very conscious of some of the ladies in my classes who were obviously ‘menopausal’. I noticed that they looked hot and bothered easily, started to lack concentration, often losing the choreography I was teaching and sometimes appeared flustered and irritable. My own Mother was a similar age at this time so I had a sense of what changes were going on in this age group. But being in my 20s or 30s I could never have known exactly how they were feeling and certainly had no in-depth knowledge on the subject of menopause! However, I was fascinated and vowed to do something about it so that I could understand and help women going through their ‘Years of Change’.

Whilst I read up and learned what I could, it wasn’t until I had been through the Menopause myself that I decided to delve in deep and really find out what was going on. Plus I felt that I could empathise much more being on the ‘other side’ myself! Finally, I knew what these women had been feeling when they attended their classes and retrospectively commended them for being there at all and keeping up their regular exercise!

Depending on what your experience of menopause is, it would not be unusual to notice a drop in energy, tiredness from disrupted sleep and regular ‘heat waves’. You may notice more aches and pains, general stiffness and that your body just doesn’t seem as responsive to the exercise it has previously found doable. It would be easy to understand that this could put you off continuing with the exercise you have loved taking part in.

Whilst you may genuinely feel this way and you may need to take that into account in planning your exercise regime, I certainly don’t believe that you are ever ‘too old’ to be doing anything you wish to do! Let your body be your guide, it will be the best indicator of what it is happy to do!

Unless there is a physical or medical reason that prevents you doing so, you should be able to continue doing the things you have always enjoyed doing and to stay mobile, fit and strong through your later years.

The trouble is, if you shy away from exercising, before you know it, you feel even worse. The pounds start to creep on (especially round the middle) possibly because instead of exercising you are playing the “oh blow it, you only live once” game and snacking and drinking wine instead! (I love a G&T and a snack to go with it now and again but we need to ensure that this is offset by exercise and a good diet – as I always say, it’s all about balance). So instead, perhaps it’s time to take a different approach. Consider what your body is happy to do and not what it isn’t happy to do. It’s time to consider whether you are giving your body the gift of the right types of exercise to help it stay strong, mobile and fit through your later life. You may genuinely feel that right now some things don’t feel right for you and that now could be time to change it up and let your body reap the benefits!

Let’s look at some of the reasons we may be put off exercising, what we can do to help ourselves and find a way forward to preserve our functionality!


If everything still feels exactly the same for you then you are very lucky but for many women going through the menopause they can feel that everything is against them.

WEIGHT GAIN can make moving feel harder work. Carrying extra weight, especially if it’s landed somewhere you are not used to carrying it, means that there is more to move around! Bending and stretching can feel more awkward if you have gained weight around the middle and even tying your shoelaces can feel more of a challenge. There will be more stress on your joints, potentially making them ache, and they may already feel more uncomfortable as it is due to your changing hormones. Jumping up and down is bound to feel harder work as there is more weight to lift off the floor!

LOWER ENERGY is something that we often experience in our Years of Change and this means that we can often be put off exercising. Especially if we already find it less comfortable doing the type of exercise we have always been used to doing. The sofa and a good film seems to have more appeal than exercising and whilst I am a believer in taking time to relax and put your feet up this can lead us down a slippery slope. The film feels better with popcorn, munchies and maybe a glass of wine. And the less you do - the less you want to do. Then the feelings of guilt and laziness set in and we feel even worse! Remember that exercising the right way actually induces energy!

LOSS OF INTEREST / MOJO - something many women experience, not just in exercise but all sorts of things!

LOW MOOD can mean that we just can’t be bothered!

POOR SLEEP – sleep disruption is so common to midlife women and is, without a doubt, one of the most frustrating things we face. It leaves us feeling extremely fatigued, more stressed, anxious, irritable and can lead to increased menopausal symptoms and cravings for sugary foods. We look at sleep closely later on in the program. How to improve sleep and sleep quality.

TOO STRETCHED & BUSY - sometimes life does get in the way and we genuinely lack time to ourselves. This is classic for midlife women who are often trying to “keep all the plates spinning”. We can feel that we don’t know who to look after first and we give our attention to everyone and everything - except ourselves! But aren’t you the one who, at this time, needs time to yourself? Do you not deserve to take time to exercise?

LOSS OF CONFIDENCE when you feel less happy with yourself and the way you look, the last thing you want to do is put on Lycra or a swimsuit. Or maybe you just feel that you aren’t as able to keep up now?

I know from the experience of teaching 1000s of women over the years and also from my own personal experience that it doesn’t take much for your self-confidence to take a dive.

Many women managed to increase their exercise during the pandemic of 2020/ 2021 and “virtually” did classes and exercises that they wouldn’t normally attempt because of the possible lack of self-confidence. They could wear what they wanted (I had “Pyjama Participants” in many of my Facebook Lives) and could totally go for it because no one was looking!

I ACHE! It can be very off-putting when you already ache before you even do that exercise session! However, you are likely to ache more if you don’t keep your body moving!

I CAN’T DO WHAT I WANT TO DO ANYMORE – sometimes this is true. Wear and tear and other medical or physical issues can prevent us from doing certain things. Acceptance can be difficult, as I well know, but there is always a way forward and discovering different ways to exercise may be key here.

I’M MENOPAUSAL!!! – who wants to risk more sweats and flushes than they are already getting? Getting hot and sweaty takes on a whole new meaning in menopause! Who has got the energy when they can’t sleep? Who can even be bothered when there’s no way we can have that bikini body anymore? Shouldn’t we be slowing down anyway?

Menopause doesn’t mean the end of doing things you enjoy!

As well as the obvious, such as controlling your weight; addressing your sleep, balancing your hormones, improving nutrition and making lifestyle changes will all help.
It could be time to CHANGE IT UP!
In changing your mindset and exercise plan it is possible to open up a whole new world if you want it enough.

In all honesty, it is a great time for making changes anyway. Even if you still enjoy the exercise you’ve always done, you actually may get more pleasure out of doing the type of activities that particularly suit midlife. And there may be things that you should be adding to your exercise regime that you haven’t yet discovered – EMBRACE THIS!

Build up slowly and acknowledge your progress. Noticing improvements in your abilities is so powerful and achieving things you haven’t done before feels great!
In some ways, it’s harder if you have always exercised and you feel your body is beginning to let you down. We are all different, try to concentrate on what feels right for you rather than comparing yourself with others. Everything I listed above can be resolved using the many tools provided in this program. Whilst we can’t revert back to being our 20 year old self, we can work to be our best both physically and mentally so that we can enjoy being the woman we are NOW, not the one we once were.
We can still do so much. We can work around any physical changes we may have. What is important is to focus on what your body CAN do, not what it CAN’T do.

Learning new skills at this stage of life is invaluable, promotes confidence and makes you feel that you have achieved something.

Choosing what type of exercise suits you is important but if you can embrace a variety of disciplines then there are so many benefits! It would be hard for me to believe that the list below would not motivate you to maintain regular exercise;
• Lift our mood
• Help build our confidence
• Help us mange our weight
• Help stabilise blood sugar levels
• Promote energy
• Help to keep our digestive system healthy
• Help us to sleep better
• Help with aches and pains if appropriate exercise is chosen
• Help maintain muscle tissue
• Help keep our pelvic floor healthy
• Help with bone health
• Allow you to have much needed time to yourself
• Keep your heart and lungs healthy
• Help reduce stress
• keep you flexible
• Keep your brain active
• Help with sexual health
• Help reduce many menopausal symptoms
• Help ward off later life diseases
• Help reduce risk of falls as we age
• Promote longevity

So, stay with me as we explore exercise, it’s many benefits to longevity and to find you a way forward that works for you!