5 Tips For Women’s Health and Fitness
National Women’s health and fitness day occurs on the last Wednesday of September, and it promotes women’s health events across the nation. Hopefully, this day inspires like-minded women to better their healthy lifestyle journeys. To learn the best ways to care for ourselves, here are five important topics in women’s health and fitness.
Exercise and Your Period
Your menstrual cycle should not stop you from exercising, so there is no reason to sit the week out. In addition, exercising regularly can reduce the intensity of menstrual cramps, according to research. Try syncing your exercise to your cycle for the best results.
Sometimes exercise can stop your period if you are exercising too frequently or at a high intensity for long periods of time. Lack of menstruation is typical in athletes and high-level fitness enthusiasts. If you are exercising at a high level and lack menstruation, contact your gynecologist to discuss your options.
Don’t Be Afraid to Lift Heavy
Let’s let go of the stigma of lifting heavy weights and becoming too manly. Physiologically, women do not have the genetics to get super bulky naturally. What makes you look bulky is the added body fat and not the muscles. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest.
Another case for lifting heavy weights is it gives you the curves you desire naturally. Finally, weight training strengthens bones. Osteoporosis is higher in women as we age. Use weight training as preventative care to protect your bones later!
Asthma is Higher in Women
According to the CDC, Asthma is higher in women. The differing hormones during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can make asthma symptoms worse. It’s essential to keep track of when your symptoms worsen during hormonal changes to help prevent an attack. Finally, because women’s lungs are smaller than men’s they can be more susceptible to asthma triggers. Take note of what triggers your asthma and develop an asthma action plan.
Fitness is more than Diet and Exercise
Women have a higher prevalence of stress-related mental health disorders, including stress, anxiety, and depression. Chronic stress trickles down to your ability to show results in your fitness regimen and diet. Black women, in particular, have a higher stress level leading to increased cortisol levels. The higher stress levels are hypothesized to be due to the systemic racism and trauma African American women face over generations.
Cortisol is the primary hormone produced in stress and is associated with chronic conditions like diabetes. By managing your stress, you can improve your health and fitness in the long run. In addition, other techniques to help manage mental health include quality sleep. Think of your body as a computer. If you do not allow it to shut down and reset, it will malfunction.
Body image can affect a women’s desire to exercise and be healthy. You would be surprised at how simple factors can motivate or demotivate someone to begin a healthy lifestyle. A negative body image can lead to unhealthy behaviors in women affecting their overall health. Here are some examples of how body image affects a woman’s participation in health and fitness.
Having large breasts may be desirable for some, but it can be a burden for others. Depending on the size, it may lead to back and neck pain making exercise uncomfortable. Try investing in a high-impact bra to reduce the pressure, or try low-impact activities like cycling and yoga.
Many women decide to get surgery to speed up the aesthetic of a particular body shape. Body enhancements like a Brazilian butt lift (BBL) and breast implants are popular these days. Although this is seen as a headstart, you must continue a regular fitness routine to maintain the results.
If you still lack confidence after surgery, it’s vital to locate the source of your negative view of your body image and find ways to improve without physical changes. For example, reflect on experiences that contributed to your negative outlook and avoid negative self-talk to enhance how you see yourself.
Disordered eating and exercise
In contrast, negative body image can lead to excessive dieting and overexercising. For example, women of moderate weight may undereat to maintain their size, but this is counterproductive to progress. Undereating leads to the loss of desired muscle tone and energy. The perceived quality of life is strained with this cycle of negative body image and excessive measures to improve it.
Overall research suggests people who exercise for functional purposes may have a better body image. Use exercise as a tool to improve your overall wellbeing, and the rest will follow. Focus on the things you enjoy doing for an activity for a better experience.
As women, we tend to care for others before putting ourselves first. Use national women’s health and fitness day to catalyze change. Find local events and activities you enjoy doing to promote a positive outlook on your health and fitness journey.