The benefits of regular exercise on your health and wellbeing are truly endless. Studies prove that moving your body daily can help improve sleep, energy, mood, weight, bone health, menstrual cycles, cognition, cardiovascular health and even prevent cancer.
Exercise & Bone Health
For women especially, regular exercise is so important to maintaining healthy bones, brains and hearts. Women are at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, in fact of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, 80% are women! This is due to the fact that women tend to have thinner bones than men and because of the changes in estrogen levels that women experience during menopause. One of the best ways to counteract this predisposition is to practice weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercises to increase bone density and stability.
Exercise & Brain Health
Women are also at an increased risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. The good news is that regular physical activity has been shown to significantly decrease a person’s risk of developing all of the above. Specifically with dementia, studies shows that regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 45%!
Exercise & Period Health
Exercise can help to regulate periods and manage cramping with your menstrual cycle. Through benefits of weight management and changes in hormonal levels, exercise can help lessen heavy periods and decrease the amount of prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins are responsible for uterine cramping. This is why for period pain specifically, exercising regularly and taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen is so helpful at treating cramps.
How to get moving!
Here are some tips to increase your daily activity level:
- The 10 minute rule: commit to doing anything for 10 minutes, if you would like to stop after that you can, but I bet you won’t!
- Add a friend: exercising with a friend or family member holds you accountable and makes the experience more enjoyable. You can connect with a friend on your apple watch or fit bit to see their progress even when you can’t exercise together.
- Take a class: Classes are a great way to find a type of exercise you enjoy, which maximizes your chances of staying consistent. Bonus points for the added social benefit!
- Dedicate time: Adding a 30-60 minute block in your schedule for exercise just like you would a meeting or appointment means you won’t skip a workout when your day gets busy. Another trick is to exercise first thing in the morning so that you can’t lose motivation as the day goes on.
- Multi-task: For aerobic exercise you don’t have to be breathless, you can take a call while walking outside or do exercises on commercial breaks while watching your favorite show.
- Listen to your body: Some days we crave low impact exercise like stretching or yoga, other days we need to burn off stress with high intensity work outs. Any movement is better than nothing, so do what feels right to you.
- Add exercise into your daily life: commit to taking the stairs instead of the elevator for 1 week. Walk to your local coffee shop or restaurant instead of driving. Setting “microhabits” can slowly but surely move you closer to your goal over time.
I am a board certified pediatrician practicing in Beverly Hills, CA. I love helping kids grow into healthy, confident, independent young adults. I have served as a principal investigator on numerous clinical trials to further advancements in pediatric medicine, as well as extensive volunteer work and curriculum development for hospitals and medical training programs both locally and globally. I love having the opportunity to educate and empower young adults & especially young women to take control of their own health and wellness.