Whilst there is increasing media about the menopause it is useful to know the fundamentals. Menopause marks the end of a woman's menstrual cycles or her reproductive years when the ovaries no longer have functional capacity to produce reproductive hormones- estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

Dr Haleema Sheikh

Dr Haleema Sheikh

Women have estrogen receptors all over the body and it is important to modulate many processes within the body apart from the menstrual cycle and fertility. It impacts metabolism, thyroid function, lipid profile, brain function and bone metabolism. Thus, the loss of pre-menopausal estrogen levels has far reaching consequences.

As a result, post-menopausal women have increased risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, stoke and osteoporosis. Many often struggle with weight gain and troublesome symptoms of hot flushes, sweats, brain fog, anxiety/overwhelm and loss of self-image.

Dance has been a vehicle for self-expression and social interaction through movement to music for humans for thousands of years. It can be a very therapeutic intervention and dancing on a regular basis seems to change the way we think and interact with one another.

It has a number of benefits for menopausal women:

1. Brain health- There is a saying that when the body moves the brain grooves and neuronal plasticity allows nerves which fire together to wire together. This can help buffer the impact of loss of estrogen on the brain/muscles and maintain coordination and balance.

Serotonin is our ‘feel-good’ brain chemical. Oestrogen is involved with the action of serotonin and so that is part of the reason low mood can be an issue when we become menopausal.  Exercise stimulates the release of chemicals in our brain and endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and other ‘feel good’ natural chemicals give a sense of wellbeing and positivity. Being physically active significantly lowers the risk of depression and cognitive decline.

Dancing is a brilliant way women can feel sharp vibrant and empowered during their menopause and can be done alone in a living room or in group specific class.

2. Bone health- Dance is a weight-bearing exercise which is good for bone density, improves balance and works on our body awareness skills, which can help prevent falls as we age. Exercise both during and after the menopause can slow bone loss, which lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

Research suggests the most beneficial exercises are multi-joint strength moves, such as those used in dance and dance-based fitness classes. Another reason to put on your dancing shoes.

3. Metabolic health/ Weight management – As we go through menopause our shape can start to change and the loss of hormones can lead to central weight gain. Excess weight increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes because of metabolic disturbances. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean muscle mass which impact metabolism further. As a result of all these changes, postmenopausal women often suffer from decreased self-image and self-esteem, which are directly related to overall mental health.

The effect of dancing, specifically, has been investigated with regards to how it improves body composition, lipid profile and functional fitness.  A new study has showed that it also had an impact on self-image/self-esteem in postmenopausal women with a three times weekly regime. A win-win on many fronts.

Dance is seen as an attractive option because it is a pleasant fun activity with low associated costs and low risk of injury for its practitioners. There are many styles of music/dance that can suit different preferences or moods.  All of these benefits may contribute to a woman's ability to maintain an independent, high-quality lifestyle throughout her lifespan.

4. Hot flush symptoms- Dancing as a form of exercise can help with hot flushes especially when you get hot and sweaty doing it. It is thought that exercise and dancing may improve the thermoregulatory control system in the brain by lowering core body temperature and by changing both the temperature threshold and sensitivity for the onset of sweating ultimately resulting in a significant reduction in frequency and severity of the flushes.

5. Sleep disturbances- Exercise which includes dance can help alleviate sleep problems experienced by menopausal women. It has been found that exercising earlier in the day is associated with better sleep quality which may be related to improving circadian rhythms, so have a boogie early in the day!

Dancing is an ancient human tradition – we move to music to express, experience, and enrich our feelings through melody or rhythm. Scientists have confirmed that music helps us feel and express our emotions and even young babies move more rhythmically when hearing music than when hearing non-musical sounds, and they smile more when moving with music! These findings show that we are literally born to enjoy dancing.  The science shows that it can be hugely beneficial for menopausal women to reconnect with themselves and others whilst availing the multiple health benefits. Definitely worth giving a try!

About the Marion Gluck Clinic

The Marion Gluck Clinic is the UK's leading medical clinic that pioneered the use of bioidentical hormones to treat menopause, perimenopause and other hormone related issues. Headed up by Dr. Marion Gluck herself, the clinic uses her method of bioidentical hormonal treatment to rebalance hormones to improve wellbeing, quality of life and to slow down ageing. 


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