One issue that many women face during menopause is lack of energy. They usually know that they should be exercising, but without energy that seems like an impossible task.
What causes low energy levels?
Low energy levels is one of the most common and surprising symptoms of menopause. Many women who exercised consistently find that they barely have the energy to get through the day, let alone exercise. And women who have never been consistent with exercise find it even more challenging.
Why does this happen? There are several reasons for low energy levels that occur during menopause. I discuss this in a more detail in this article, but here is a summary:
- Many women suffer from poor sleep during menopause. When you lack sleep you don’t have the physical or mental energy to exercise.
- Mood swings are common and can cause low energy levels.
- Hypothyroidism is common in perimenopausal and menopausal women. One of the symptoms is low energy.
- New food sensitivities may occur during menopause. If you are not getting the nutrients you need from your food due to poor digestion then you will likely lack energy.
- Many women experience anemia during perimenopause which contributes to lack of energy.
- Not getting enough exercise can also contribute to feelings of fatigue. So this becomes a cycle which spirals downward.
It may seem like there is nothing you can do. You want to exercise, but the energy just isn’t there. But there are things you can do to get past this.
Move a little
Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of movement to get you going. Tell yourself that you only need to go for 5 minutes or 10 minutes. After 5 minutes or 10 minutes check how you are feeling. You might surprise yourself and feel like you can go longer. If not you still get the benefits of the 5 to 10 minutes of exercise.
Sometimes we have exercise goals that are too challenging. If you haven’t been exercising for a while then an hour long HIIT class probably sounds like it is too much to handle (and it probably is). Even if this is what you could do before, give yourself permission to try something easier.
Exercise with a friend
Sometimes having a friend to meet for a workout, a walk or a run will help to get you motivated. You might not really feel like getting out, but you know you promised your friend so you are more likely to go.
Exercise at home
On the other hand, sometimes going to the gym or going to a class seems like too much effort. If you have a workout video or workout app you can do at home, this might be easier than trying to go to the gym.
Exercise in the morning
Many women have more energy in the morning, making this the best time to exercise. It does take some discipline to get out of bed early, if you want to exercise before work or before your family gets up. Exercising in the morning will give you an energy boost for the rest of the day, as long as you get there right amount of exercise.
Adjust your diet
Your diet may be contributing to your low energy. Reduce the amount of processed carbohydrates and sugar to avoid blood sugar spikes and the crashes which drain your energy. Foods like nuts, vegetables, fatty fish and whole grains can help to boost energy.
I find that coffee an hour or two before I exercise helps increase my energy levels. Caffeine in the morning can help add an energy boost, but limit it later in the day if it keeps you from sleeping. It if makes you jittery, then it will likely cause an energy crash as big as the burst of energy so beware of this. This can happen if you are sensitive to caffeine or if you consume large quantities of caffeine.
Try a stress reduction technique
Stress can zap your energy. If you are under a lot of stress, you will often feel exhausted from your body’s reaction to the stress. Stress also can keep you from sleeping well. To combat this, a stress reduction technique like yoga, meditation or going for a walk can help you to manage your stress levels.
I’ve talked to many women who find that they just don’t have the energy to exercise while they are going through menopause. But exercise offers so many benefits that it is important to try to get a little bit. Use this article as a guide to help you get more energy and to exercise even when you don’t feel like it.