Supporting women's health through exercise

04 September 2023

Women’s Health Week, held in September, highlights the important role exercise plays in reducing and managing health-related issues.

With half of all women in Australia living with at least one major chronic disease, Women’s Health Week aims to raise awareness around improving women’s health and educate Australians on healthier choices.  

Benefits of exercising for women’s health

The right exercises can have a significant effect in reducing the risk of developing chronic health conditions common in women such as cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and diabetes. Exercise also assists in managing these conditions if they occur.  

As a result of military experiences, injuries and mental health concerns, some common health conditions that female veterans may be susceptible to include: 

  • Osteopenia (decrease in bone mineral density) 
  • Osteoporosis (bone mineral density loss and structural changes) 
  • Pelvic floor weakness 
  • PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) 
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Chronic lower back pain  

Older women, usually in a post-menopausal age group, can struggle with bone density due to a major decrease in oestrogen production, something that can be maintained through weight-bearing and impact exercise. 

Exercise can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing, helping people to break down social barriers and manage the impacts of anxiety and depression. 

Professional support for women’s health  

It is important to know that the menstrual cycle can have significant effects on acute injuries, due to hormonal changes effecting the laxity (looseness) of tendons and ligaments. 

Health professionals trained in women’s health will usually change their programming or use caution during these times if hyper-mobility is identified with a specific client. 

A women’s health team can include: 

  • GP (women’s health specialist)
  • Physiotherapist 
  • Exercise physiologist 
  • Dietician 

Your GP may also add other professionals to your team to address any other specific health concerns. 

Quick tips to including more exercise in your lifestyle

Exercise can feel like a chore if you are just getting started. Whether it’s lack of time, lack of gym access, or lack of accountability, there can be a range of reasons why women may struggle to exercise. 

Some simple ways to add more exercise into your schedule include: 

  • Increase incidental activity: this could be as simple as parking further away, taking the stairs, etc. 
  • Exercise in groups or with a partner to increase accountability: use the motivation of partnered workouts to push each other to be the best you can be and stay on track with your workout routines. 
  • Know your cycle: if you experience a menstrual cycle, be kind to yourself during low energy/low motivation phases but also make sure to make use of high energy phases (usually the second week of a menstrual cycle). 
  • Create meaningful and achievable goals: it's also important reward yourself in a healthy way that supports furthering your goals. 
  • Access Mates4Mates clinical services: this includes seeking the expertise of our exercise physiologists. Mates4Mates rehabilitation gyms, based in Brisbane and Townsville, offer open gym hours where you can work on your individual exercise program in a welcoming space.  

This Women’s Health Week, remember action is always better than inaction. 

To find out more about how to exercise safely for your health, reach out to Mates4Mates on 1300 4 MATES (62 837) for a confidential chat with an exercise physiologist. 

 

Written by Courtney Turner, Mates4Mates Exercise Physiologist 

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