When it comes to the health of women, there are specific and unique risks they can face that men do not. These risks surround issues such as (but not limited to) hormonal balance, reproductive health, cardiovascular health and musculoskeletal health.
While it has been firmly established that diet is a key factor in reducing risk of many diseases and contributing to overall health, exercise has also been shown to have a significant role in prevention and maintaining health. Below, I have compiled a list of the top five workouts that have a positive impact on women’s health.
First and foremost, every woman should be including some form of strength training in her life. Aim for heavier weight with lower repetition ranges of 4-6, and movements that utilize your major muscle groups (such as glutes, quads, hamstrings, back and chest). Strength training is essential to maintain muscle and bone mass as we age, slowing the rate of loss of these important tissues. Another perk to increasing your muscle mass is that it typically equates to a lower body fat percentage.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
HIIT workouts will help to boost metabolism, and to increase the body’s capacity to do cardiovascular work. This style of workout contains intervals of close to maximal or all-out maximal effort, balanced by periods where you get to recover. A great benefit of this style of workout is that it does not take much time. Due to working at intense levels, you don’t have to workout for very long. Not only does this style of workout help to improve heart health, it is a great workout to burn fat.
Walking, jogging, running, hiking etc.
Any form of repetitive motion such as those listed above can help boost cardiovascular endurance. If something like Cross-fit or HIIT isn’t appealing to you, this might be your solution to getting some heart strengthening exercise. The key is to make sure you put some intensity behind it. Our heart is a muscle, similar to how a bicep is a muscle and in order for it to stay strong, it needs to be worked out as well.
Cross-fit is another type of workout that women can benefit from. It combines many aspects of the above workouts – strength, high intensity training, and cardiovascular endurance. Don’t be intimidated by how intense this style of workout can look – as with pretty much any form of working out, workouts can be tailored to different levels of fitness.
Yoga can help to improve mobility (key to good movement patterns), but perhaps even most importantly, it can help to encourage breath work. Our breathing patterns affect almost every aspect of our daily lives. Turning our focus inwards for even a few minutes to simply breath and move in a mindful way can help to reduce stress.
By Caitlyn Jones – BPE, CSEP-CPT
Talanian, Jason L., et al. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol 102, Issue 4, 1439-1447. April 2007.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada: