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.”