Written by Holly Wilcox
The benefits of physical activity for women include improved bone health, lower rates of breast cancer diagnosis and relapse, and improved maternal and fetal outcomes during pregnancy.
For both men and women, physical activity also decreases the chances of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. Regular physical activity is also associated with improved self-esteem and quality of life.
Women have certain physiological and anatomical differences to men which can lead to increased risk of overuse injuries. These differences include the mechanical alignment of the hip-knee-ankle affected by a wider pelvis, weaker quadriceps (thigh muscles) and increased joint flexibility. (ACSM, 2014)
Often women would like to be maintain a regular exercise regime but an overuse injury is preventing them from exercising. Common overuse injuries can include:
- stress fractures,
- plantar fasciitis
- pain syndrome
- Achilles tendinopathy
- posterior tibial dysfunction.
To prevent and treat overuse injuries it is crucial that appropriate footwear is worn, the exercise regime is suitable for fitness level and strengthening exercises are advised if any muscle weaknesses are apparent.
Lack of time and health not being a priority can be barriers in women maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Health professionals need to work together with women to help make physical activity not only a possibility but a priority.