Mo Featured in MORE Magazine

Fitness instructor Maureen Hagan, 49, shows you how to ease symptoms through exercise.

A self-professed adrenalin junkie, Maureen Hagan, vice-president of operations for GoodLife Fitness in London, Ont., has instructed group exercise classes since 1984 and has been an avid runner since her teens. But when she began experiencing symptoms of menopause at age 47, Hagan had to modify the way she worked out. Hormonal changes led to weight gain and her joints could no longer handle extensive high-impact cardio. She needed a low-impact workout that would prevent muscle loss and help her shed unwanted pounds – especially around the midsection.

Hagan began relying on Newbody­ – a total-body training program she created 20 years ago. The 30-minute workout uses one- to three-pound weights to boost strength while keeping the body in constant motion. It’s a challenging cardiovascular routine without the pounding effects of a high-impact activity. According to Hagan, Newbody’s gentle cardio can help reduce hot flashes, boost energy and improve sleep. “When you train with enough intensity to perspire, the sweat cleanses the body and helps remove toxins,” she explains. Exercise also helps reduce cortisol, a stress hormone.

At the same time, the light weights allow women to do more repetitions, which helps boost endurance and strength – crucial for halting accelerated muscle loss. “Unless you do strength training,” stresses Hagan, “you lose about five per cent of your muscle mass with each decade [after the age of 40].” With muscle loss comes a drop in metabolism and increased fat storage, especially around the tummy. Bone density loss is more exaggerated after menopause, but strength training decreases the risk of osteoporosis.

Try Newbody three to five times a week and watch it work for you. Here’s how to get started.

Walk the dog with arm sequence

Why it’s important
This movement helps slow loss of hip mobility that can occur during menopause. Plus, the complex arm sequence is a great way to ward off “brain fog.”

How-to
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and weight over your right foot. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at hip height, palms facing up and elbows pulled back so your arms are in a row position.

(A) Slowly lift your left leg in front of your body to hip level, bending the knee at a 90-degree angle. At the same time, cross your forearms in front of your chest.

(B) Hold for two to three seconds. Slowly rotate your leg out to the side by squeezing your glutes. Simultaneously uncross your arms so your hands are at shoulder height, palms facing forward.

Technique trick
Move slowly to help maintain balance.

(C) Hold for two to three seconds. Slowly return to start position for two to three seconds. Continue for eight repetitions on the left side, then switch legs.

You’ll see results in
Shoulders, back and abdominal muscles, hip flexors, glutes and calves.

Too difficult?
Keep the dumbbells at hip height throughout the exercise until you are able to master your balance.

Dead lift with bent-over row

Why it’s important
We tend to slump with age. This movement trains the postural muscles to keep you standing tall.

How-to
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lean forward from the hips as you lower the weights to mid-shin height, keeping a straight spine. Bend your elbows, pulling the dumbbells toward the rib cage, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly lower the dumbbells and lift your torso to return to start position. Repeat for two to three sets of 16 repetitions.

You’ll see results in
Back muscles, glutes and hamstrings.

Too difficult?
Row one arm at a time with one hand on your thigh to help support your back.

Crescent lunge into bird dog

Why it’s important
This movement is a great way to train your whole body while improving balance and the postural muscles.

How-to
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Take a small step backwards with the right foot, placing the ball of your foot on the floor. Bend both knees and lean forward from the hips, lowering both weights to mid-shin height.

(A) Push off your back foot, transferring your weight to the left leg. Lift your right foot and extend the leg backwards until it’s almost parallel To the floor.

(B) Lift your arms out to the sides so your body looks like an airplane.

Technique trick
Keep your hips parallel throughout. Don’t rotate them as you lift your back leg.

(C) Hold for two to three seconds, then return to start position. Continue for eight to 16 repetitions, then switch sides.

You’ll see results in
Shoulders, back muscles, glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings.

Too difficult?
Do the rear leg lift, keeping your arms at your sides.

Plié squat with overhead press

Why it’s important
A wider-stance squat will maximize strength while minimizing the stress on your knees.

How-to
Stand with your feet in a wide stance. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, palms facing forward.

(A) Slowly bend your knees, lowering your buttocks until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. At the same time, press the weights overhead into a wide V-shape.

(B) Hold for two to three seconds, then return to start pos-ition. Repeat for two to three sets of eight to 16 repetitions.

You’ll see results in
Shoulders, abdominal muscles, glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings.

Need a challenge?
Drag one foot in as you lower your arms and step out again for each squat.

 

Two ways to a new body

Mix up your Newbody exercise routine. Pick your favourite regimen or alternate bet