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How our hormonal cycles could provide answers to our muscle strength & joint pain.

As a part of the 28 Day Wall Pilates Challenge I have added a twist which is for you to focus on other aspects of your health alongside the 10 minute training videos. As I explain in the video below, what

we eat matters when it comes to our movement, particularly when we are in periods of our life when our hormones aren't there to help us. Now let's just look at when those times are....

...And here's the thing - this is not just for when you are heading into or out of menopause. One of the defining factors that makes us different to men is that our hormones are always fluctuating. Estrogen is a key one when it comes to exercise as its the predominant hormone in women that helps us to grow our muscles. It also has a huge role in reducing inflammation in the body as well as helping with repair and recovery. Our muscles need all of these 3 factors in order to regenerate and stay healthy.

We live a part of our life relying on our hormones to keep us buoyant. It means, at certain times we don't really need to worry, or at least aren't conscious of the need to be concerned about whether we get enough sleep, whether we are eating healthily or living in the fast lane with stressful lives. The female sex hormone journey however, from the very start, is set to challenge us. We know this! But we often don't recognise or focus on this as a point of difference that gives us an advantage. Quite the contrary, it's been used against women for 1000 of years as a point of weakness.

If you have read my previous blog post, Why Women Need Weights More than Men, you'll know that our muscle make up is different and the way we metabolise fats is different to men too. Whilst women have less muscle mass, it's been shown in ultra endurance cycling events, women are finishing races at the same time as men. This may be connected to our higher proportion of slow twitch muscle fibre type and our efficiency in metabolising fat and therefore being able to use it better as a fuel source. A recent research review has also shown that when estrogen is high in our monthly cycle - we are able to recover more quickly from bouts of intense strength/power training which means we can train again more quickly - literally doubling the amount of work we can do (This is in the follicular stage of our monthly cycle - days 0 - 14) At other points in our cycle, when estrogen is low, we are less able to train so hard. To date this evidence is based on Strength training, so be careful of apps and influencer posts that are claiming this works for running or other types of sports - We also know for example that estrogen effects tissues differently - ligaments & tendons for example may not fair so well when estrogen is high. There are therefore nuances between each woman and each sport/activity. Every year however more research emerges and it's fascinating science.

So what does this all mean to our joint health?

Whilst our hormones are very important we cannot, at any point in our life, rely on our hormones to always carry us through. One period of our life that's never talked about is the early postnatal stage. Here our hormones drop so rapidly that our ability to train, bearing in mind we are already working hard to look after a baby, is severely limited. This is more severe than the drops during peri-menopause and also a contributory factor to why our mental capacity is also challenged and why postnatal depression is so high. Progesterone and Estrogen support our mental, as well as physical health.

So there are points throughout our entire lives when we are more vulnerable and where we need to rely on lifestyle practices to help us through. I use to live by a code & ethos based on ... "I CAN DO THIS - NO MATTER WHAT!" This kind of rhetoric was not helpful to me and it is not helpful to you. We are designed to work in a cyclical nature, with periods when we rest, slow down and, as a consequence of that rest, have periods where we can do far much more.

Men don't get to feel their hormones drop in the way we do, there's no defining moment for men to listen in. So this is a female superpower! And the best bit is that there are so many lifestyle practices that we can use to help us harness this. If you are a man reading this - your understanding is so important to us - thank you for reading!

Whether you start listening in whilst you still have periods or later on in life, we can all look back at our history, from when our periods started, to get a feel for how are bodies behave. This is the start of us getting to know ourselves better - this is the ground work to growing into ourselves as powerful women.

There is lots of evidence to show that anti-inflammatory foods, particularly those containing polyphenols - berry fruits etc, can help to manage inflammatory joint diseases such

as arthritis. There are also plenty of other nutrients that help with joint health and ones that we can focus on which will also help with our muscle development too. Protein is essential for muscle development, as are nutrients such as vitamin D and fats such as Omega 3's for joint health. We need all of these to enable us to train more effectively and most importantly so we can keep moving...MOVING is the key to joint, bone, and metabolic health and our nutrition has to be able to support it, particularly when our hormones can't.

Our ability to absorb nutrients as we age also becomes more difficult , both eating more of the right foods and exercising works hand in hand here - Strength training for example helps you to synthesise protein more efficiently. Food and Movement are a powerful synergistic tool that, when we embrace it, upgrades quality and longevity for life.

When it comes to other lifestyle practices we also know a calming influence over our bodies is paramount. We need to get our bodies into parasympathetic drive - that's the calming state, if we want to reduce inflammation and in turn get our bodies to recover, repair and grow. From breathing techniques to sleep and more, there are many tools, as well as nutrition and exercise, that we can use to combat lowering of hormones. The best bit is we can use these at any point in our life.

If you'd like more help in navigating all of this, why not join one of my bespoke programmes. Until the end of tonight we have a 15% off offer on all our Bespoke Programme first month payments. Click here for more details.

If you are not sure what to do - why not contact us here and arrange for a 10 minute chat to talk through your needs. we will honour the 15% discount for anyone booking in for a chat, up until 30th November 2023.

If you are following the Wall Pilates Challenge I'll be posting more videos on lifestyle practice to help you with your exercise. Make sure you subscribe to our youtube channel to get updates. NEW Exercise video drops on Tuesday 28th.

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