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The Benefits of Exercise During Menopause

The Menopause Workout Plan and the WORST things you can do in menopause

By Cheryl Coppa

Everything is starting to slow down and you FEEL it! It begins with peri-menopause which can start as early as in your 30’s for some women, but for most, it begins between the ages of 40 and 44. Full Menopause starts for most women around age 51 or 52.

I know it’s obvious when you start to see and feel the changes and they are usually not subtle. Mood changes, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, tiredness, weakness, irritability, restlessness, bone density loss, leaking when you laugh, cough, sneeze, injured easily, depressed, you start to feel fragile. You start to even adopt this mindset that you are just too old for certain things.

What a long list of dread that is, let's talk about what you CAN and SHOULD do!

It’s time to start giving your body some TLC as you go through this life transition. Every woman will go through this differently as well based on so many different things. You might need more than this basic guidance, but you can always start here because it will still benefit you in one way or another, 100%! Also, focus on what you CAN control and how you CAN support your body. After you have implemented the free lifestyle changes and still see no change in the way you look, feel, and perform? You can always seek more from there, but still TRY these changes that are FREE or of very little cost.

🎯 Strength Training to Increase Bone Density, Burn Fat, Sleep Better, and Improve Confidence!

For sure we know we are feeling softer and weaker, this is because we are losing muscle and bone density and we start to store fat very easily. This one suggestion will help increase bone density, burn fat, sleep better, and improve your confidence and how you feel about yourself. Strength Training! Sounds so simple and so easy, and it is. Really! Many times when we feel so terrible, we just don't want to believe that something so simple can be so beneficial. I see it every day as this is what I do, I train women 40 and beyond and strength training is the bulk of what we do. Even with the smallest time investments, you will FEEL the difference and the benefits just continue like dominos.

“I see it every day. I train women over 40, and strength training is the bulk of what we do. Even with the smallest time investments, you will FEEL the difference and the benefits just continue like dominos.”

Strength training is going to put pressure on your bones, this is going to increase bone density. You are putting pressure and micro-tears in your muscles, this is going to stimulate muscle growth instead of muscle loss. Having muscle in your body is going to burn fat and give you more energy.
Overall, after you have started strength training for a while you are going to sleep better and your moods will be more balanced. The feelings of empowerment and strength will also start to happen as you realize you are not in doom forever, there are things you CAN do.  

🎯 Mobility Training and Proper Core Training to Keep You Moving Pain-Free

The next thing you can do is add mobility training and proper core training. While you are working on strength and fat loss, let's keep your spine healthy, strong, and protected as well as other major joints to keep you moving pain-free. Proper Core training is a missing link in women's fitness and it is crucial to protect your spine and your pelvic floor. This is something we teach in our Core & Pelvic Floor Restore Program. What you learn in this program is something you take with you in ALL your daily movements and ALL your exercise training. Because Core training is not in sit-ups and crunches. Core training is learning how to properly load, maintain that pressure, and then move through it safely. For example, something I came across a lot in women over 40 before I started training with them, was they would throw their back out doing simple daily tasks, things such as loading the dishwasher or emptying the dryer, or twisting this way or that way and then OUCH! The problem is, that we have not been properly taught to safely load your spine and work through movements that keep your spine and pelvic floor safe! When you do traditional core training such as sit-ups or crunching, this does not translate to movements that make us stronger or help us in what we might encounter in our everyday movement patterns. You want to be able to move freely in all directions and with loads (as if you were holding a pet, child, groceries, laundry, etc.) and NOT hurt yourself. The very simple training and breathing techniques we learn in the Core & Pelvic Floor Restore Program will be put by you into practice in your other fitness training, which will also transfer over to how you move in your daily life.

“At this point in life, your training and exercises should be built around wanting to maintain your independence for as long as possible. The WORST thing you can do as far as movement goes is NOTHING!”

At this point in life, your training and exercises should be built around wanting to maintain your independence for as long as possible. To be able to do all the daily tasks and more without limitation and injury. The side effects of this are Feeling, Looking, and Sleeping better!

The WORST thing you can do as far as movement goes, is NOTHING! If you do nothing, your bones, muscles, and mood will continue to deteriorate, and this is no exaggeration.

“Avoid jumping into a generic cardio class at the gym, which can strain your joints and compromise your spine and core. When you work out with a trainer who designs the HIIT or Cardio routines FOR the female body over 40, it’s a completely different story.”

You might also hear that HIIT and Cardio are some of the worst things you can do. We dispelled that myth HERE. While it is true if you were to walk into any gym and attend a HIIT or Cardio class, this might be one of the worst things you can do. Because it might have you putting too much pressure and too fast on your fragile joints and exercises that would compromise your spine and core. But, when you work out with a trainer who designs the HIIT or Cardio routines FOR the female body over 40, this is a completely different story. I LOVE HIIT training, so I just redesigned the way we HIIT! You will never see burpees, tuck jumps, or jumping lunges. We keep all the exercises low impact so they are safe and give the bone just enough pressure to make it stronger but not overdo it.

🎯 Nutrition! Don’t Use Your Body as a Garbage Can - Eat Like You LOVE Your Body

I am not a nutritionist but I can tell you that I am not a big fan of diets and fasting. Again, I am not a nutritionist so you can take my option as you will. But, out of the hundreds of women I have trained over the years, I can tell you that diet, more often than not, creates a poor relationship with food and often leaves one feeling deprived and unsatisfied. Fasting, more often than not, leads to bingeing and inhibiting one from hitting proper protein goals which are IMPERATIVE to hang on to what we are fighting for (muscle gain and fat loss). Again, something that also contributes to a poor relationship with food and can contribute to hormone issues.

What You CAN Do

If a diet helps you through a time, then do it, that's what diets are after all, temporary. I have done many for different reasons. For example, there was a time when I had a horrible outbreak of psoriasis. So bad I would have to cover all my body. And being a trainer was torture. Sweating and having to shower intensified the pain and misery. I’m not a pill popper so I was seeking ways to heal WHY this was happening in the first place. Through a series of trial and error, I found I had a sensitivity to nightshades. Which was a HUGE part of what I ate on a daily basis! So for months, I eliminated tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, spicy foods, and seasonings. My psoriasis disappeared. I eased back into those foods and I still have to watch it, I can’t overdo it without paying for it. But in this sense, this “diet” was for healing purposes. Food is powerful. You can use food as fuel and as medicine.

It is true we do have to be more mindful of what we put in our bodies. We can’t eat like a teenager and expect to look and feel amazing. Certain foods will make you feel a certain way if you really start to pay attention to them in a healthy way. I treat myself to all the good things, but at the same time, I don’t use my body as a garbage can either. Eat like you LOVE your body, food can be SO great for you!

PROTEIN! Such a big one! And one that all personal trainers and nutritionists across the world would agree on! Protein is going to help you build and maintain muscle that we talked about already, it's going to keep you full which is going to help you feel full and make better food choices along the way. This does take effort, but hey, you get to eat! It is recommended that women over 40 should eat around 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of lean body mass.

So for example, if you are 200 lbs, this does not mean you should eat 200 grams of protein a day, more like 125 grams. I personally eat, or try to eat 100 grams of protein a day, and I weigh 127.  Most days I fall short of hitting my protein goal but I make an effort and that is all we really can do, right? It’s always better than making no effort at all.

The BEST Workout Plan For Peri-Menopause, Menopause, and Beyond

If you were to dedicate 6 days of movement a week (30-minutes), I would prescribe you this:
3 strength sessions  
2 Core/Pelvic Floor or Yoga or Mobility sessions
1 HIIT session

If you dedicate 5 days of movement a week I would prescribe you this:
3 Strength sessions
1 Core /Pelvic floor or Stretch or Yoga  session  
1 HIIT day

If you were to dedicate 2-3 days to do just the bare minimum:
2-3 strength training days.

Many will often do the minimum, what I can tell you about that is, that it is harder. It will take longer for you to feel and get results. Especially if you choose only 2 days a week, each routine will feel hard and not feel like you are getting stronger. So at least 3 days to FEEL and see the difference. 5 days would be best, you will feel so great and motivated to keep doing it! Here at Ola, our trainings are only 30 minutes and done right at home so the time commitment is very minimal.

It makes a world of difference in saving you TIME & FRUSTRATION if you work with a trainer or team that specializes in what you need help with. Here at Ola Ka Ola, we specialize in fitness for women over 40 and beyond. If you have very specific needs on top of this, reach out and we can discuss  1:1 options that might be available to you as well.


About Cheryl Coppa

✔️ A certified Core Confidence Specialist (Core and Pelvic Floor retraining)
✔️ A certified Personal Trainer specializing in women's fitness over 40
✔️ Low-Pressure Fitness / Hypopressive certified by creator Dr. Tamara Rial
✔️ Pre/postnatal corrective exercise specialist
✔️Instructor of the Pelvic Floor Health program, Ola Ka Ola
✔️ 41 years young, wife & mother of 3


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