Lowering Intensity in Menopause?

Tanny T

I have done a lot of reading and research (credible sources-not just Dr. Google) and some of the information is saying that high intensity workouts like HiiT and running aren't recommended for menopausal women due to these types of workouts raising cortisol levels too high. I just wondered what your thoughts were on that, since I believe you are getting to be to that age as well?


I'm not Cathe, but I am in menopause, so I'd just like to say that you should do what works for you. For myself, I found that cardio 3 times a week, with 1 of those days being anaerobic level combined with 2 days of strength training work for me. Then, Sat, I do a light warm up, a long stretch. Sun, is my "healing day" where I do Qi Gong, Classical Stretch, or gentle yoga. As you can see, now that I'm going through menopause, I'm now taking (basically) 2 active recovery days (rather than the 1 I used to take). One of those days, I do do my 3rd ab workout of the week (the other 2 are part of my strength training days). I used to only need 2 core/ab workouts a week, and I probably could have gotten by with 1. I need more now, because I have back issues, and it helps to keep my core at its very best. I used to do a lot more high intensity workouts, but felt there came a time where it was draining me more than it was providing benefits - like I wasn't recovering in between them before the next one or something. Also, I don't know how to describe it, but I could almost "feel" my body burning calories. I tried upping my protein to accommodate, but I was having trouble keeping weight on and it was negatively affecting my strength training. I can't give up the high intensity completely, though, because there's something about them that gives me a mental and emotional boost, as long as I keep it to once a week. High intensity allows me to burn off steam. I also get a sense of satisfaction out of doing it. That's what works for me. If what you're currently doing is working, I'd keep doing it until it doesn't. Then change until you find the right combo of what works best for your body and mind. I'd been exercising the same way for years, and then my body told me it wasn't working anymore. I tried different things based on research I'd done, but basically I ended up doing what worked for me based on experimentation. When I hit the right combo, my body said, "Now you got it." :cool: We have a lot of people on this site that are going through the same thing, they'll likely share their own experiences, and some of them might be more knowledgeable about your specific cortisol question. My understanding of cortisol has always been that it is one of the body's responses to stress. When I tried completely eliminating high intensity from my rotation, I felt that my stress level went up. I tend to use high intensity to burn off energy, steam, frustration, stress, etc. Keeping it in my rotation did end up with me having that 2nd active recovery day that I was talking about, but those days help me lower stress too - just in a different way. Cathe has some articles on menopause, but I'm not sure if any of them address your specific question. If they do though, I'm sure another member will provide a link. And you already know this, but many many things are affected by diet. So, a good healthy plant-based diet makes menopause so much more easy to handle. Eating that way also helps lower cortisol levels, because it tends to be an anti-inflammatory diet, which decreases cortisol.


I’ve been in perimenopause for quite a while. I hurt my knee doing cardio slam in June and started P.volve and I’m hooked. I still lift heavy with Cathe for my upper body but the P.volve is great for my lower body. I have no menopause symptoms except for virtually no periods and I’ve had hormones and everything else tested. I’m not promoting another trainer or program because I’d still be doing all my workouts with Cathe but P.volve has a special series specifically for the needs during menopause.


I recently started menopause too. I can't work out with the same intensity that I used to. When I do a higher intensity workout I need longer to recover. I now usually have 2 rest days a week instead of 1. I find that I really need to listen to my body. Pushing myself to do a higher intensity workout when I am still sore from a previous workout puts my body under more stress and I don't get the full benefit of the workout.
I would recommend a book by Stacy Sims, Ph.D. entitled Next Level (subtitled, Your Guide to Kicking Ass, Feeling Great, and Crushing Goals Through Menopause and Beyond). This excellent, science-backed book was just published a few months ago and gives the latest science on training through and beyond menopause. I loved this book.

The quick summary is to train hard but recover hard. Interval training (using short bursts of movement) combined with lifting heavy - both key in order to compensate for those hormones that decrease so dramatically during menopause. I am 63 and 12 years post menopause. This method works well for me. I am guessing Cathe has been reading this science too and has based STS 2.0 on the same principles - train hard, lift heavy, but have planned recovery strategies that are used on a regularly scheduled basis.


I haven't finished Sims' "Next Level" yet, but Jane summed it up well. Sims also recommends some plyo, but be sure to check with your doctor/Healthcare provider first for osteopenia/porosis & recommendations. She does emphasize the need for adequate recovery, so listen to your body & if 48 hours between weight workouts isn't doing it, recover longer, or if you're low energy after the interval workouts, recover longer .... but do active recovery.

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