Fitness trends come and go, but two forms of mind-body exercises which have been a foundation for wellness are Yoga and Pilates. Through years of training women in various stages of menopause, I have found that rebuilding that mind-body connection, often forgotten throughout child bearing and the aging process, helps not only to relieve the symptoms of menopause but carries over into a better quality of life.
According to a study by The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), “Pilates and yoga, often referred to as mind-body activities, show promising benefits which include increased flexibility, improved quality of life, relief of the symptoms of menopause, and some reduction of lower back pain.”
In fact, the ACSM study showed evidence in a majority of women of a decrease in hot flashes and night sweats. The women performed specific symptom reducing postures and participated in an hour long Yoga class twice a week as well as an at home program. The diaphragmatic breathing performed in Yoga class is said to contribute to a decrease in symptoms in the various stages of menopause. Studies also show that the positive imagery associated with Yoga practice helps sustain a positive mood, encouraging women to commit to the program on an ongoing basis.
Throughout my career, I have found that weak core muscles are another common trait found among women in various stages of menopause. Often times, a weak core can result in lower back pain and posture abnormalities. Pilates can help strengthen those core muscles as well as build that reconnection of the mind and body. Another ACSM study focusing on Pilates found that lower back pain was significantly decreased in certain areas of the lower spine. The mindfulness associated with the slow, progressive core based movements of Pilates also allow for a greater connection of mind, body and spirit.
The slow, purposeful movements of both Yoga and Pilates have been proven to help create awareness of the body which in turn helps to improve what I like to call “life skills.”
Activities such as housework, walking up steps, gardening, etc. are done with much more ease.