When we hit menopause, we are at a higher risk of heart disease. This is due to the decrease in oestrogen which affects the arteries in the heart, making them less elastic and pliable.
When we are young, the arteries that surround and feed our heart with lovely oxygen rich blood are very pliable, so it is easy for the blood to nourish the heart. But over time environmental stresses, such as pollution, stress, bad food choices, inactivity and smoking (even passive smoking) all contribute towards heart disease.
Even if you have never smoked you may be affected by passive smoking. If you are in your 50’s I am sure you will remember that smoking was allowed on trains and buses, as well as in pubs and clubs. Do you remember coming home after a night out and having to wash your hair and clothes because of how they smelt of smoke? Yuck!
All of the above will damage the inside of your arteries. If you smoke, or have smoked, for pleasure then the damage is greater. The damage is like an open sore on the inside of your artery, that sore would be sticky and any fat that you have in your blood will stick to that sore. Therefore, over time those beautiful clear pliable arteries become congested. (see photo of occluded artery – 3rd down).
Obviously these fatty deposits over time become bigger therefore making that artery vessel smaller. Hit menopause and the decrease in oestrogen causes that lovely pliable artery to be less elastic,
therefore making it harder for the oxygen to nourish your heart and to be pumped around your body.
Your heart is a muscle just like any other muscle, if you do not use it then it will lose strength.
Strength to help beat blood around your body and through the arteries in your heart. Coupled that with inactivity then, low oestrogen and stress equals high risk of heart disease, which can include stroke, heart attack, angina and diabetes.
I have taught specialist exercise sessions to cardiac patients, they are a joy to teach. When they arrive to me they have experienced such a life changing event, heart attack or a related cardiac event, hospital, then physiotherapy, that they feel very lucky to be able to carry on their new health journey.
If they had the knowledge of taking preventative measures – would these patients have taken them? Damm yes! The % of women in the sessions were higher to men.
Do I have your attention now?
So, apart from exercising for our mental health, general well-being and to feel good, it really is a necessity when we hit menopause.
Jane “what can I do?” I can hear you ask!
Government guidelines say 30/40 minutes of physical activity 3 to 4 times per week i.e getting breathless 3 to 4 times per week for that amount of time, WHAT!? Sounds a lot right?
Its ok, take a deep breath, this can be broken down into smaller segments. 10 mins here and there.
Look at how you can incorporate becoming breathless in your everyday life:
Walk as much as you can – ditch the car.If you take the lift, stop right now and start taking the stairs.Escalators – if you stand, start walking up them.Hoovering can be great, well I hate it, but my point is that doing it more vigorously will make you breathless. Put on music while you do it or plug yourself into your headphones – it will drown out the hoover and family members!Take the stairs as much as you can.If you already take the stairs take 2 at a time and go quicker.At the weekend arrange to meet a friend for a cuppa but go for a walk first together.
Fast walking will really help – it is simple.
My studio is in London Bridge; however, I get off the tube at Borough station, 2 reasons;
It is further away so therefore incorporate more steps into my day.It has 102 stairs – yes I could take the lift but I don’t – I become breathless and it sets me up for the day, both physically and mentally.
Becoming breathless will not only help your heart but your mental health too…….those of you who have Instagram please do follow me on my Instagram stories and you will see how I do it!
If you are still not sold on taking up exercise, look at our new page on the site, these testimonials are from real women that I did not bribe with any chocolate at all!
Happy walking Meno’s!