We all know that exercise is good for our health and wellbeing. However, many women experience and go through various health conditions or concerns specific to them that aren’t often talked about. I have a passion for women’s health and using exercise to help you and your specific experiences.
The pelvic floor
Whether you are a young, athletic female, a pre-natal mum, have pushed out 4 children or your going on 80yrs old, it is important for us all to have a strong pelvic floor. Like any muscle the only way to have a strong pelvic floor is to train the pelvic floor.
In the past, pregnant women were discouraged from exercise because of safety concerns. Today, we know that regular exercise during pregnancy can benefit a woman’s fitness and psychological wellbeing and prevent excessive weight gain in pregnancy just to name a few. It also helps with reduce the common aches and pains experienced as well as reducing the likelihood of complications post pregnancy.
Is is really important to make sure we are exercising safely during pregnancy. There is lots of changes going on in the body and the way we exercise is going to change throughout the pregnancy.
Endometriosis is a chronic health condition affecting one in eight women worldwide, yet there is little information available about how exercise can help manage and improve painful symptoms.
The pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis can cause a guarding mechanism within the body where the body braces to protect itself from pain. This bracing can affect the pelvic floor, abdominal wall and hip flexors (the front side of the body). When returning back to exercise, it is important to first focus on the lengthening and strengthening of these muscle groups. Exercises based around the principles of pilates and yoga can be a fantastic place to start!!!
With over half of all women over 60 affected by osteoporosis, this is a big one. Throughout early adulthood our body continues to deposit calcium and other minerals into our bones to increase their strength, being the highest during our 20s and 30s. From the age of 40 onwards, our bones progressively lose strength over time. The onset of osteopenia or osteoporosis can be delayed if we can improve our bone mass during these earlier stages of life.
Regardless of whether you are aiming to maintain your bone strength or improve it, any type of weight bearing exercise is beneficial. This may include strength training, high impact or plyometric activities, jumping and hopping. Activities such as walking, swimming and cycling are great for general health and fitness but will not necessarily play a role in improving our bone mineral density.
The diagnosis of breast cancer brings challenges, lots of emotions, time off work, a new routine not to mention a heap of side effects. The last thing you want to think about is exercise. However research has found that regular physical activity will help with:
- Maintaining muscle mass
- Maintaining Bone Mineral Density
- Management of cancer related fatigue
- Improved appetite and reduced nausea (common side effect of chemo)
- Enhanced outcomes during and post treatment
This list is really endless!!
Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS)
PCOS affects 12-18% of all women. There isn’t currently much research into the specifics of what types of exercise are beneficial for PCOS. However we are able to understand some of the mechanisms of what happens when exercising and the impact it has on PCOS:
- Resistance exercise has been found to decrease abdominal obesity resulting in improved insulin sensitivity and improved levels of SHBG (sex hormone).
- Aerobic training has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in women with PCOS.