Jasmina's blog: Fitness in Middle Age – Is It Downhill From Here or All In The Mind?
I turned 40 last year during Lockdown 2.0 (or maybe 3.0, I’ve lost count). Lockdown scuppered any lavish birthday party or mini break plans. Instead, it made me reflect on my life so far and consider what’s to come. In particular, I started wondering whether my body and mind would be able to handle the unforgiving female ageing process over the next few decades and whether I would need to adjust my exercise routine to accommodate the seemingly inevitable changes to my body.
I don’t feel nearly, let alone actually, middle-aged. I associate middle age with my parents who are now in their 70s. I still have young children to care for and I have numerous friends in their early 40s who are hoping to carry their first child or additional children. Mentally, I feel as fit as I was BC – before children and, yes, before Covid. Yet the science seems to scream out that your 40s are, biologically, your ‘transitional’ years – transition from child bearer to little old lady. Being a woman means that, once menopause arrives, your biological use seemingly fades away.
The NHS website says that menopausal symptoms last an average of 4 years from the date of your last period. However, around 1 in every 10 women experience them for up to 12 years. 12 years?! I could be nearly or over 60 by the time my body adjusts to a new ‘normal’.
When I read this, I had a mild panic and started searching the internet for the elixir of youth. There is plenty of material on fitness and lifestyle sites to guide the middle-aged woman through the menopause marathon and how to embrace it/starve it off. Some commentators encourage you to ignore the science and focus on your mindset – if you believe yourself to be young and maintain good posture and a clean lifestyle, you may be able to trick your body into believing that you can fight the ageing process or at least delay it for a few more decades. Others seem to be more matter of fact about ageing – accept your fate and deal with it.
Perhaps a happy medium is to accept your fate, but make the landing a graceful, gentle one. I’m planning to continue with my usual mix of cardio and resistance training with a sprinkle more of stretching before and after a run. Further, inspired by my daughter’s ballet teacher, I’ve recently joined an adult improver ballet class where the average age of the class is around 60 years old which is inspirational. If anything, this will give me something to talk about at my 50th birthday party which I intend to celebrate in style no matter what.
Jasmina, a lawyer, and her husband, who works in Fintech, both work fully remotely to fit around parenting their two children, aged 4 and 9.