09 SepWomen’s Health Week – Exercise

Let’s face it, our health has never been more important. Exercise is certainly an important component of this, and plays a role in managing a lot of women’s health domains. 

Exercise helps to manage 

  • Breast cancer 
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome 
  • Endometriosis 
  • Pregnancy and postpartum (including post-natal depression) 
  • Gestational diabetes 
  • Prolapse and hysterectomy 
  • Menopause 
  • Weight 
  • Strength and preventing falls 

Interestingly, 1 in 2 Australian women aged 18-64 are not getting enough exercise. These rates are highest among women aged 25-34 and lowest among women aged 55-61 – despite the fact that we know that as we age, exercise becomes even more crucial for maintaining health and movement. So, what does ‘enough’ exercise actually look like? 

The Australian Physical Activity recommendations recommend 150-300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate activity, or 75-150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. This includes any continuous exercise that makes your breathing increase and makes use of your large muscle groups while keeping up your heart rate, such as cycling, walking, jogging or swimming. It’s also recommended to fit in at least two strength sessions every week, as this will help build bone and muscle strength, burn body fat, and rev up your metabolism. There are many different ways we can perform strength exercise – it doesn’t just need to be heavy weights in a gym setting. 

You can check the intensity of your exercise using the talk test: 

  • If you can talk comfortably and sing comfortably = light intensity 
  • Talk comfortably but not sing = moderate intensity 
  • Neither talk nor sing comfortably = vigorous/high intensity 

Tips for staying on track: 

  • Exercise buddy – doing it with your partner, friends or family increases the likelihood that you will stick to your routine. Being held accountable is proven to increase the amount of exercise undertaken. 
  • Make time – lack of time is one of the most common reasons for lack of exercise. Remember, it’s all about planning and prioritising. Anything is better than nothing! 
  • Have fun – Exercise is not supposed to be a chore! Find something that you enjoy and do that; sometimes you may have to try a few things to find your enjoyed activity. 
  • Every bit counts – Don’t forget to make the most of incidental exercise. Take the stairs, park your car further away from work, opt for standing instead of sitting. It all adds up and every little bit counts. 

Remember, an accredited exercise physiologist can help you get started by ensuring the activity you are doing is appropriate to your medical history and related to your goals in a safe manner.

Tamika Hassum 

Accredited Exercise Physiologist