How will menopause symptoms affect my running? - Women's Running

How will menopause symptoms affect my running?

Author: Juliet McGrattan

Read Time:   |  May 27, 2022

Dr Juliet McGrattan explains menopause symptoms, how to spot them and what effect they might be having on your running

Every woman’s experience of the menopause is different. Some women hardly notice their body moving into the next stage of life while others have severe symptoms that make their daily life intolerable. But running is a powerful tool for managing the menopause, helping you to stay physically and mentally well. However, the changing hormone levels cause many menopause symptoms that make running difficult.

Want more? Here’s everything you need to know about managing menopause symptoms as a runner.

Here are some of the common menopause symptoms that can interfere with running:

  • Irregular or heavy bleeding (before periods stop they often become unpredictable)
  • Breast pain: tender, heavy and painful breasts
  • Urinary incontinence (this often becomes apparent or worsens around the menopause)
  • Fatigue that is often unexplained
  • Lack of motivation and a loss in competitive drive
  • Aches and pains before, during and after running
  • Weight gain (body shape and composition naturally changes with the menopause)
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Hot flushes: the body’s thermostat goes haywire making it difficult for runners to control their body temperature
  • Clumsiness that can lead to an increase in injury risk
  • Anxiety that can lead to self-doubt and feeling less adventurous

This may feel like an overwhelming and depressing list; you may even have others to add to it.  Remember that not all women will experience these and they don’t tend to come all at once or be present every day! Your symptoms may have no effect at all on your running.

The good news is that there are so many benefits to running in the lead up to and after the menopause. Running can help to counteract some of the changes that are going on in your body. It can help to control weight fluctuations, reduce flushes and improve sleep. The feel-good endorphins your body releases when you run can ease anxiety and mood swings. Running with others helps to boost motivation and offers a chance to chat and off load stress. You might be unaware of some of the changes that are happening to your body, for example, your bone and muscle mass decline significantly. Running is a great way to reduce the speed at which this happens, helping to keep you strong and able-bodied for years to come.

You may find that despite your symptoms, you enjoy your running even more than usual when you are going through the menopause. Having a way to improve mood, relieve stress and regain some control of your changing body feels great. If you’ve lost your competitive edge, you may develop a new relationship with running and enjoy trying new routes, pressure-free runs and simply the act of running itself.

If you’re struggling with menopausal symptoms, don’t forget that treatment is available. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), for example, is safe and suitable for the large majority of women. It’s life-changing for many. Don’t suffer in silence. Make an appointment with your GP to discuss your own personal situation.

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Juliet McGrattan

Health expert, author, keen runner and busy mum

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