As women enter perimenopause and beyond, many women gain weight, and this weight is typically added to unwanted areas, such as the abdomen. In addition, aging also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and bone loss. While there are products like Kuhl Care that can significantly reduce menopause symptoms (especially hot flashes), these products aren’t going to lose the weight for you. It’s vitally important that women remain active in order to prevent these conditions and manage weight gain. One method that is highly effective in helping women to manage menopausal weight gain is indoor cycling, or ‘spinning’.
What is spinning?
Spinning classes are indoor cycling classes that are generally 45 minutes long and are extremely high-energy, burning large numbers of calories. Classes are generally led by an instructor, who acts as a coach (or drill sergeant!), instructing participants on when to increase their speed and when to slow down. Music is often an important part of spinning, adding energy and motivation. Spinning classes are often combined with yoga, barbells, resistance bands and other forms of exercise in order to ensure a total body workout.
The benefits of spinning
The health benefits of spinning are numerous and include:
- building strong core muscles
- building muscle mass
- weight loss
- reduction in blood pressure
- building strength and endurance
- better control of blood sugar/prevention of diabetes
- improved balance
- prevention of osteoporosis
Spinning can also have a positive effect on mood. Many women in menopause suffer from anxiety and/or depression. Participants in spinning classes often describe the “rush” that they get from spinning, which is similar to the phenomenon of a runner’s high- exercise causes the brain to release endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers. When endorphins are released, they often provide a sense of euphoria that can last for some time after exercising.
The sense of well-being that is produced by spinning and other forms of aerobic exercise is often motivation to encourage the continuation of exercise. Self-esteem also suffers in menopause for many women. The many physical changes experienced leave women feeling less than thrilled with their bodies. Spinning can provide a sense of control over one’s body, in addition to toning muscles and maintaining weight. Insomnia and frequent waking related to night sweats can also be an issue in menopause. Exercise such as spinning can improve sleep patterns, in addition to helping to relieve stress and promoting relaxation.
Spinning is often done in a group format, and this can be beneficial for women suffering from depression, low self-esteem and low motivation to exercise. There is power in numbers and this concept applies to spinning as well. It is easier to stay motivated to exercise when you are exercising with others. Sharing your accomplishments with others can also be enjoyable and motivating, increasing your self-esteem and infusing you with a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
Who shouldn’t spin?
Of course, anyone planning to partake in a new exercise program should be cleared by their physician to engage in strenuous exercise. Once cleared, women should remember to stay well hydrated during and after spinning and should strive to keep their heart rate within their target heart range for their age and weight. Exercising too strenuously in the beginning could lead to muscle, joint, ligament and tendon injuries, so listen to your body and exercise within your limits, slowly increasing your strength and endurance.
Source: Mann, D. Indoor cycling workouts: Firming up, riding high. Web MD, 2010. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/indoor-cycling?page=1