Many women head to the gym to offset menopausal weight gain, build muscle mass and preserve a youthful body shape and radiance. New evidence suggests that menopausal women should be more discerning about the type of exercise they choose to do. Food scientist and nutritional therapist Susie Debice explains how different types of exercise impact on cellular ageing…
Fine lines and wrinkles may be an indication that your body is starting to age on the outside and cellular ageing determines how quickly your body is aging on the inside. A recent study suggests that the type of exercise you are doing may influence the rate of cellular ageing.
Oestrogen stimulates your natural collagen repair, replenish and renew processes so as oestrogen levels decline during the menopause this is reflected by a loss of collagen in your skin, muscles, bones, cartilage and connective tissues. As oestrogen levels start to drop you are more than likely going to noticing changes in your skin and muscle tone as your ability to naturally maintain collagen levels starts to plummet. In fact, studies suggest that your collagen levels are likely to drop by 30% in the first five years after your menopause and then about 2% every year, for the following 20 years.
Once you start to notice changes to you skin and muscle tone as a result of this loss of collagen you could start to feel anxious about getting older and this may motivate you to head to the gym. But before you start training for a 5k run or sign up to your first marathon it’s important to consider how your new passion for exercise could impact the rate at with your cells undergo their natural ageing process, the last thing you want to do is speed up your cellular ageing!
One marker for cellular ageing it the activity of a type of structure found at the end of chromosomes called telomeres which tend to shorten in length as we age. German researchers took a group of women between the age of 30 and 60 and split them into four groups, each group partook in a different type of exercise for 45 minutes, three times a week for 26 weeks. The four types of exercise studies were resistance exercise (weight training), HIIT (high intensity interval training), aerobic (continuous running) and a control group who didn’t do any exercise.
The results were published in the European Heart Journal and revealed that those in the aerobic and HIIT group were shown to have a higher level of telomerase activity leading to their chromosomes becoming longer. Exciting to know that some forms of exercise could actually slow some aspects of cellular ageing. The researchers commented that both these exercises help to generate nitrous oxide which supports some areas of cellular health, particularly the mitochondria which are the energy centres of our cells.
One thing that this study does highlight is that when it comes to setting yourself a new menopausal exercise routine a balance approach is key for your long-term health and longevity. While resistance training didn’t feature positively for cellular anti-ageing in this study, it doesn’t mean this form of exercise isn’t of value. Weight bearing exercise is phenomenally important for bone health and reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis for post-menopausal women. Next time you head to the gym be sure to include equal measures of weights, aerobic and HIIT to help support your cardio fitness, body conditioning and slow cellular ageing.
The pandemic has made this a difficult year in terms of restricted exercise due to lockdown and many gyms being closed. Some gyms are now open but it’s still hard to get an available pre-booked time slot that works with your schedule or lifestyle. Instead of giving up on exercise, shift your focus to online classes or you could invest in some home gym equipment – exercise bike, rowing machine or even a weight station. Second-hand options make these much more affordable and all you need is a little bit space. A garage or garden studio is the perfect place for your own workout station!