22 Oct Let’s move it, ladies!
Regardless of gender, it’s no secret that doing some regular exercise delivers a health kick for a (whole!) lot of reasons. But it’s also true that for us women, physical activity brings with it some specific health benefits – benefits that for me, make moving more on a regular basis even more appealing.
For starters, let’s talk about breast cancer. One in eight Australian women will be diagnosed with it before the age of 85, but research shows that physically active women may reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 25 per cent. Other home-grown research shows that exercising regularly makes a difference post diagnosis, too. Not only can it help to reduce the intensity of chemotherapy-related side effects, an Australian study discovered that amongst people living with breast cancer, those who exercised regularly reduced their risk of developing a secondary cancer by 35 per cent.
Exercise can also play a role in helping to protect against, manage and even improve a range of other conditions and diseases such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome and urinary incontinence.
Plus, it’s a well-known fact that enjoying some regular physical activity can help to reduce your risk of heart disease (which affects one in three women after the age of 40) and osteoporosis (which one in two women over the age of 60 will experience). It can even help you manage symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause, depending on your life stage. You can read more about both of those things, and how exercise can help, here.
As for the type of exercise to do, the first thing I’d say is this: it’s really important to remember that when you’ve been diagnosed with, or are being treated for a specific medical condition, seeking tailored advice around physical activity from an exercise physiologist is essential. As well, the management of some health issues – such as urinary incontinence – require very specific exercises (and the Continence Foundation of Australia is an invaluable resource to learn more about the pelvic floor muscle exercises that can help to improve your bladder function control).
But generally speaking, for a well-rounded exercise routine that delivers the key health benefits, it’s important to include three different kinds of exercise: cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility exercises. You can discover all about the differences and how often to do each type here.
I’m also really passionate about exercise being fun, because aside from anything else, if you get a kick out of it you’ll keep doing it. So, as well as ensuring you’ve got the three essentials mentioned above covered, try to move in a way that you get some genuine enjoyment out of, too. You’ll find some ideas around how to do that here.
So ladies, which aspect of your health and wellbeing will you make a move for next?