Exercising with Hot Flashes
From the November 2020 interview with Livestrong:
1. As someone who has worked with clients who have experienced hot flashes during your sessions, can you walk me through what it looks like? Also, what tips have you given them in general to help manage the symptoms at that moment?
The client starts to feel warm in the upper body. The face may turn red and they may start to sweat. When this occurs, I have them drink ice water, decrease exercise intensity, or take a short break until the hot flash subsides.
2. Are there ways to modify a workout so that you don’t necessarily have to stop if a hot flash arises?
Make sure the individual is wearing appropriate exercise clothing and place a fan directly on the individual. If the hot flash occurs during the workout modify the routine so that there is less intensity because both physical and mental stress is a hot flash trigger.
3. Are there certain exercises that are more conducive for women who have hot flashes? For example, maybe Pilates over HIIT since Pilates doesn’t really raise your core body temperature in the same way…
It depends on the person. Each person has unique hot flash triggers. Pilates can be performed in a gentle manner and may decrease the risk of flashes. The breathing used in the movements can help to lower stress.
Since being overweight can increase hot flashes, I would not want to eliminate intense aerobic exercise which helps in weight control. Strength training must be performed twice a week to help keep to muscles and bones strong. It can also be performed in a way which will not trigger flashes.
4. There is some research that says that both vigorous exercise and weight training can help with hot flashes. How so?
Exercise can help to regulate body temperature by improving the ability to control heat dissipation. Weight training and aerobic exercise help to control weight which will reduce flashes. Weight training triggers the release of neurotransmitters, which may improve the brain’s ability to control body temperature.
5. Typically if someone is experiencing hot flashes, they are in menopause (though there can be other causes), how does menopause affect a woman’s response to exercise?
The typical response to exercise of a 55-year-old will differ from someone half her age. A woman in menopause may not be sleeping well which can lower their endurance and she may have other health issues such as arthritis, poor balance, orthopedic issues, etc. Therefore, an exercise routine must be age appropriate.
Strength training must be performed in order to prevent bone loss. If the person experiencing hot flashes is in menopause, they may already have osteoporosis which means their exercise routine must be modified.
6 Are there any big myths/misconceptions about women exercising with hot flashes that you would like to debunk.
When one has a tendency to have hot flashes, getting hot and sweaty during exercise does not sound appealing. They need to know that exercise can decrease the occurrence of their hot flashes.