Exercise for the Right Reasons this Women’s Health Week

7 September 2021

It’s Women’s Health Week this week, from 6th – 10th September 2021, and Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is encouraging Australian women to stop focusing on the scales when it comes to exercise, and to instead be motivated by the wide range of health and well-being benefits physical activity provides.

According to ESSA’s accredited exercise professionals working in women’s health, many of their female clients only see exercise as a way to lose weight. However, when you look at the way exercise can be promoted to women, it’s not hard to see why.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in the weight loss rhetoric that is peddled by the wellness industry. But if we do that, we’re missing out on some the best reasons to move our bodies,” explains Meredith Woolsey, Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

This view of keeping active purely for weight loss has the potential to then create negative relationships for women with their bodies and exercise. For Women’s Health Week, and for every week, it’s important to remember the right reasons we should be exercising.

“Setting goals for weight loss can put an unrealistic and potentially unhealthy motive on exercise. A lot of the time, when people use weight loss as motivation, it’s in the form of punishment,” adds Kiara Roscio, Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

They feel as though they need to ‘burn off’ lunch or ‘earn’ dessert. They put themselves through hours in the gym or a gruelling HIIT workout that they don’t enjoy. This leads to burnout, unsustainability, and potentially compulsive exercise or a disordered relationship with exercise.”

The physical and mental health benefits of exercise stretch far beyond weight loss. Ultimately, regular physical activity can help to protect you against many chronic diseases and illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, depression, anxiety, and more.

Exercise is also really important for women’s health conditions that receive less attention than weight loss, such as pelvis floor disorders which include symptoms such as the frequent urge to urinate, weakened pelvic organs, and incontinence. In fact, more than 1 in 3 women experience urinary incontinence – and it’s not just those who have had children.

“In my work as a Women’s Health Exercise Physiologist, I see women of all ages with pelvic floor issues. From young athletes specialising in sports like horse riding or gymnastics with stress incontinence, through to women in their late 60s who believe that leaking urine is just something they have to deal with since they delivered their children (which is not true!). I’ve seen it all,” says Esme Soan, Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

There is so many great reasons for women to get active and its time they start to put their physical and mental health first. We want women to focus on self-care instead of scales and to exercise for the right reasons.

When it comes to health and fitness advice, it’s also important to speak to the right exercise experts. Whether you’re starting to exercise for the first time, or are living with a chronic condition, Accredited Exercise Physiologists are university-trained professionals who will ensure that you are exercising right for you and your health.

You can find your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist via the online directory here.

To find out more about women’s health and exercise, check out our free-to-download eBook.

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