There are plenty of reasons why women should exercise, but some aren’t as obvious as others.
But what constitutes exercise in the first place? There are two main types of exercise:
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes a decrease in bone mass density, resulting in weakened bones that are vulnerable to fracture and deformation. It’s referred to as the “silent thief” because fractures are often the first symptom – though by then, the disease is often very advanced. Fractures commonly affect the spine, hips and wrist area. Approximately 12 million Americans are affected by this disease, and it’s estimated that nearly 40 per cent of U.S. Caucasian women and 13 per cent of U.S. Caucasian men aged 50 or older will experience at least one fragility fracture (caused by osteoporosis) in their lifetime.
Exercise can help to build up your bone mineral density. The vertical trabeculae in the bone are the “weight bearing” structures, and their density can be increased with exercise.
Regular exercise can alter your cholesterol in just a few months. As little as 30 minutes a day can decrease your LDL (Bad Cholesterol) and increase your HDL (Good Cholesterol).
For the majority of the population, a combination of both cardiovascular training and weight training is the most efficient way to control your weight. Recent research shows that a shorter period of interval cardio training (20 minutes divided into alternating 30-second intervals of intense and easy cardio training), along with a 30 to 40 minute weight training program produces the best results in terms of decreased body fat percentage and an increase in lean muscle mass.
Children of all ages can and should be exercising regularly. The rates of American childhood obesity are alarmingly high (tripling from 6.5 per cent 20 years ago to 19.6 per cent today). Heavy weight-bearing exercise should be avoided until after puberty, but cardiovascular activity is encouraged at any age.
Just as our heart and muscles adapt when exercising, so does the endocrine system. Exercise can cause the ovaries to adapt by decreasing the level of estrogen that they produce, which can lead to a decrease in fluid retention, breast soreness, and irritability. Exercise also releases “feel good” hormones called endorphins.
Studies have shown that exercise helps to relieve and prevent many menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal and urinary irritation, insomnia and depression. Post-menopausal women who exercise are half as likely to develop diabetes.