Mood swings are extremely common during perimenopause, the stage leading up to menopause. Since sex hormone levels - notably estrogen - are erratically fluctuating during this time, it causes brain chemistry to fluctuate as well, resulting in mood swings. Sometimes, just going to the gym every day can get repetitive and boring, but there are many competitive and non-competitive sports that can keep you engaged and boost your mood.
Swimming is low-impact, refreshing, and can put your strength to the test. You can start by doing laps in the pool on a beautiful day, and even challenge other swimmers to a race when you feel you've built up speed. This activity works your whole body and can boost endorphin levels in the brain, which is known to reduce stress. You can even continue this hobby into the winter by scoping out your nearest indoor pool.
If you like competition, this is the perfect leisure activity for a good time with friends. You do not need to be on a team. All you have to do is find a net, get a volleyball, and invite some friends or family to the park or beach. You may not be good at first, but it's all in good fun. The interaction with others can make you laugh and raise your oxytocin levels, which is the hormone responsible for feelings of support and friendship.
This is a great option if you want to engage in a one-on-one sport with your significant other or a friend. Tennis courts are found in most parks and even schools. It's the perfect way to run around and work up a sweat, making it a fantastic form of cardio. Cardiovascular activities can actually raise your levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of joy.
This is another form of cardio, but it has the added benefit of beautiful surroundings. Whether you join a hiking club or go solo, this activity has a strong power to uplift. Being surrounded by the sights, colors, and sounds of nature can help you rise above your worries. Also, the sunlight can raise your levels of vitamin D, which is essential for balancing mood.
This may not be a sport, per se, but it requires focus, stamina, and flexibility to undertake. Some may think yoga is simple and slow-paced, but in fact, it is complex and powerfully develops strength, balance, and even coordination. In addition, it strongly focuses on establishing harmony between the body, mind, and heart. It even increases your levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of deep tranquility.
This world music dance-fitness fusion has gained increasing popularity. It is so fun that many attendees do not realize what an amazing workout they are getting. Following the sequences to upbeat music can teach you how to dance, all while raising your heart beat and making you feel alive. If you are feeling depressed or fatigued, this will wake you right up. Again, some may not consider dancing a sport, but many dancers would disagree.
Mood swings are not easy to go through. Sadness, anger, and anxiety can come on so strong that they can escalate to sobbing, yelling, and panicking. Exercise can help decrease menopause symptoms, so incorporating one or more of these fun and engaging sports can improve your mood and overall well-being. Combined with a balanced diet, you should be happy and level in no time.
- Moilanen, J.M. et al. (2012). Effect of aerobic training on menopausal symptoms--a randomized controlled trial. Menopause, 19(6), 691-696. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31823cc5f7
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Menopause and Menopause Treatments Fact Sheet. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menopause-treatment.html
- Office on Women's Health. (2013). Physical activity (exercise) fact sheet. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/physical-activity.html