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Menopause, Me and Physical Activity

“It’s the loss of everything I used to be and there’s nothing to replace the person I used to be except this new person that doesn’t sleep and is consequently a bit unhinged… it’s so horrible” Research Participant 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

Menopause is a taboo subject in our society and women going through the menopause are missing out on the benefits of being physically active. Women in Sport wanted to find out more.  

Our innovative research used a mixed method approach of a national survey (427 women) and focus groups (28 women) to explore active and inactive women’s (aged 45-60) relationship with sport and physical activity during menopause. 

Our Menopause, Me and Physical Activity report provides insights from the research and recommendations for sport deliverers to support women to maintain and re-engage with physical activity during menopause. 

We also provide a summary of the research in Supporting Women to Get Active, which highlights the importance of this issue for women’s long-term health and makes a number of recommendations to encourage the sport, exercise and health sectors to work together to support women during this time. 

REPORT CONTENTS: 

  • Women’s core values during menopause 
  • The meaning of menopause 
  • Barriers to being active 
  • Menopause and physical activity 
  • Supporting women to be active during menopause 

KEY FINDINGS 

  • Menopause is a complex stage of life that represents both loss and a time for re-appraising one’s life. 
  • Women value feeling good and looking good most during menopause, closely followed by spending time with friends and family. 
  • Menopausal symptoms, low exercise self-efficacy and physical activity knowledge, social stigma and lack of social support are significant barriers to participation. 
  • Just under a third of women drop off from physical activity during menopause, yet the desire to be active is high. 
  • Physical activity can help women manage and cope better with their symptoms. 
  • Menopause is a significant opportunity to re-introduce and support physical activity behaviours.  

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SPORT & PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PROVIDERS: 

  • Empower women to feel change is good and being active can be a ‘new beginning’. 
  • Use real women’s stories to inspire women and break the taboo of menopause. 
  • Align offers to women’s core values of ‘feeling good’ and ‘looking good’. 
  • Provide offers that are flexible, low commitment and menopause friendly. 
  • Give guidance and reassurance on ‘safe’ physical activity. 
  • Provide and encourage opportunities for social support.