Generally, men are said to hit the gym for social reasons. For them, working out at the gym provides the opportunity to have fun and catch up with friends. They also see it as a way to compete, even if in an informal way. Would you agree?
For women, however, the assumption is that they go to the gym for vanity’s sake. Sure, appearance and ego are part of some women’s M.O.’s, but those don’t address all of the other reasons women exercise.
As often is the case, the assumption isn’t completely accurate; it doesn’t tell the whole story. So let’s take a look at the bigger picture–the one that includes a few of the countless additional benefits women reap from working out.
The Important Benefits You Reap From Working Out
The Skinny on Fat Composition
One of the biological differences between men and women is the number of fat cells that women have. Physically, men have more muscle mass whereas women have more fat cells. According to Human Kinetics, 20% of women’s normal body weight is made up of fat cells. Only 10% of fat cells compose men’s normal body weight (Delavier, 2017).
Therefore, women are prone to put on weight more quickly than men.
Estrogen is linked to weight gain as well and reduces the ability to burn fat (Wales, 2009). Therefore, exercising regularly helps women keep excess weight at bay and maintain a healthier weight range.
We’ve all heard that being overweight has been linked to under-performance as well as lifestyle diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. These lifestyle diseases have claimed the lives of millions worldwide.
There are No Bones about Strengthening Bones
Maintaining a workout regimen is more crucial as a woman ages. This is because when women reach menopause, their chances of osteoporosis are higher. When bone cells lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, they become less dense, lose strength, and break more easily (National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2017). This makes bones weaker and more fragile over time. So a workout routine does not only strengthen muscles; it also fortifies bones.
Taking the Cramp Out of the Menstrual Cycle
Exercising has proven to alleviate painful periods as well as pre-and post-menstrual pain. Menstrual pain is also known as dysmenorrhea which affects a large population of women young and old (Uzoma, 2011). This type of discomfort impacts performance at work and even younger girls’ performance at school, and that can lead to absenteeism.
The main culprit of menstrual pain is a chemical known as prostaglandin, which is usually produced during the menstrual cycle. Prostaglandin is responsible for the contraction of muscles, thus, causing cramps.
According to Gustavo Rosie, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Virginia Hospital, working out leads to the production of beta-endorphins analgesia [pain relief] that helps burn the prostaglandin (Shaw, 2007).
Reducing the Pains of Pregnancy
Women should not wait to get pregnant until they start exercising to avoid those nasty back pains. Exercising before pregnancy goes a long way in preparing one for an easier pregnancy. Studies have shown that pregnant women who maintain a workout regimen prior to pregnancy experience less labor pain, back pain, and even pain during delivery (Slimtree guide your fitness, 2017).
Mood Enhancement: Combatting Depression
Women are more likely to suffer from depression as compared to men. Women are even more at risk to become depressed after giving birth, commonly known as postnatal depression. Taking part in a regular exercise routine is strongly recommended to help reduce the incidence of postnatal depression or at least the symptoms.
Exercise and physical activity release what many like to call the ‘happy hormones’. These hormones are endorphins and they tend to reduce the perception of pain and improve mood (Exercise and Depression, 2016). Moreover, exercise significantly reduces stress.
Location. Location. Motivation.
Where women workout can influence just if and how long they exercise. If it’s exercising at the gym, having fashionable yet functional apparel can make them feel more confident in public. Feeling attractive also increases one’s motivation (Burke, 2005).
Women prefer gyms that are much closer to home, OR even within their home like Beachbody on Demand. That way they will travel less and reduce expenses. Hence, location plays a huge role in determining where a woman will end up working out regularly.
Currently I choose to exercise at home. I LOVE my workout videos! We women go through many stages in our lives. So, as mom of 3 year old twins, running a business from home, I need to cut the transportation out of my day and hit play on my iPhone, laptop, or tablet.
Workout Apparel: Comfort and Style
Let’s face it, we women love to look and feel good, whether it’s attending a formal event or hitting the gym. It is true that when women purchase workout apparel (one of my favorites is the Fabletics line), most of them go for the stylish yet comfortable brands (Beattie, 2017).
The right kind of exercising apparel goes a long way in ensuring that you get the most out of your workout routine. If it’s too tight and uncomfortable, it can cut your workout session in half. I’m actually wearing an entire Fabletics outfit that I bought a few months ago—and my butt is looking pretty good! I’ll let you decide if it’s the pants or the fitness, (wink).
It is wise to stay away from apparel made from cotton, and purchase exercise clothing made out of polyester or are cotton blends. So, polyester breathes and does not trap sweat (Beattie, 2017). It’s better than OK to seek out stylish and comfy workout wear.
In the end, more confidence and more comfort only mean more motivation—and looking FAB!
We’ve asked some of our readers to share their top priorities when it comes to fitness. Take a look below.
Julie Shah, Founder of Heart & Soul Spa :: For me the top three are: 1) Apparel 2) Location 3) Time. I like to be comfortable when I’m working out. Also, the workout has to be efficient, fun, and engaging.
Lauren Fortier Marquardt :: Something that motivates you AND comfortable and well-fitting clothes. Fun outfits (colors, prints) make everything better. When you look good you feel good.
Kate Penndorf :: Comfortable clothes, good tv (I walk on the treadmill), kid in bed 🙂
Lisa Kneller, Founder of Bring Me Bliss :: 1) Location matters most because I don’t want to spend a lot of time driving. 2) Cost is also an issue because money doesn’t grow on trees! 3) Comfort of apparel is important also because as a yoga teacher, yoga student and someone who works out, I like to have the freedom to move.
Jodi Graber, Bravo Wellness :: Location – I’m more inclined to “get up and go” if the studio is nearby. Apparel – I want to be comfortable :) Time of day – if it gets too late, I get too tired; earlier is better
Marci Hopkins, Host of Coffee with Marci :: My priorities: location, friends, and trainers.
Maria Luchsinger, Founder of The Women’s Career Transformation Network :: What matters most to me is ease of access to getting exercise. For me, that is walking and I can do it in my neighborhood or go to a nearby park. If the weather is bad, I can put on music in my house and dance. I am not a fan of going to the gym. A good pair of shoes is important, not necessarily the most expensive. Going hiking with friends is fun, but yet effective. I like to think of it as playing, so no one telling me how many steps today.
Lisa Lieberman-Wang, Founder of FINE to FAB ::
Work out buddy. I enjoy having my husband work out with me. It makes it more fun and easier to make it a habit having him on board with me.
Dawn Sullivan :: Location – the closer to home the easier to get there in the morning; clothes – I love cute work out outfits (for me not anyone else); a work out partner – it always helps if you are accountable to someone; great music.
Shelly Burd :: Cute but affordable clothes, workout partner, good music. All are essential to get and keep motivated
Rita P. Cheng, Heart and Art Cottage:: Location. I prefer to work out at home if I can. And teaching style of the instructor.
Mallika Malhotra, Owner of Mikifoto :: location, leadership (who’s training me) and music.
Carol Gonzalez :: Convenience is the biggest factor for me and has helped me to sustain a healthy workout regimen. If I don’t workout, it’s the exception. That being said, regarding clothing, it doesn’t matter what I wear in my home gym. At the fitness center at work, it depends on what I’m doing. Treadmill or elliptical I’ll wear the uniform they offer. For yoga or a barre class, I prefer something close to the skin (yoga pants and tank) and a good sports bra!
If I had to pinpoint features, topping the list are comfort and practicality. I am definitely not a gym bunny. I go to work out and really don’t care what I look like.
Susan M. Krien :: Being able to mix up my routine seasonally-access to beautiful parks for outdoor power walks , a gym membership for indoor work outs helps alleviate boredom. Having fun and comfortable workout apparel is always important. Convenience and a tracking system of some sort like Map My Run or any app on the phone help stay on track and motivated 🙂
Julie Kaminski :: As a 30 year + fitness instructor: location (drive time cuts into precious hours in the day), group dynamics (do you enjoy the people) and kick ass instructors who provide safe, fun and effective workouts. As far as clothing – the longer they stay fresh the better – even the best gear eventually gets tossed due to odor 🙂
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement. We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.
Around the holiday, December of 2016 I finally was fed up with having constant lower back and accepted the fact that I had to get x-rays. It’s not normal at the age of 36 to not be able to put my pants on.
So I went for help and ended up going to physical therapy. Which, I was told I could not work out, do laundry, or pick my kids up! I was out of commission. Once I got the go ahead I committed to coaching other into getting stronger and healthier.
2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
I’m grateful that I have the mental strength to lead, to heal, and to serve. Therefore, I’m appreciate my courage.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
Most recently, I’m most proud of my weight loss and building strength journey. With that said, I share a little of this HERE.
4. Of course, we all have imperfections, or so we think. In truth, we are all perfectly imperfect. So, what are your not-so-perfect ways? Likewise, what imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
Ugh, as I get even more fit and fab, my boobs are shrinking! Oh, and I have uneven breasts, like a solid cup size difference. Sooo, physically imperfect I am, LOL.
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to appreciate and express all the positive traits that make you…well…YOU! In fact, sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (We assure you!) Therefore, Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my butt and I love my back muscles that are forming from being consistent and last, hitting PLAY EVERYDAY!.
Beattie, L. (2017, April 17). Six Things to Look for when Buying Exercise Apparel. Retrieved April 29, 2017, from Spark people: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:dfVM8SNRAkkJ:www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp%3Fid%3D1397+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk
Burke, S. (2005, June 1). Physical Activity Context. Retrieved April 29, 2017, from Preferences of university students: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:G8DxO_yHVuwJ:https://legacy.wlu.ca/documents/46958/Burke_Carron_Eys_2006_prefere
Delavier, F. (2017, April 22). Women’s Strength Training Anatomy. Retrieved April 26, 2017, from Human Kinetics/Excerpts: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:KG9AsApNA7UJ:www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/learn-why-women-carry-more-fat-than-men+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk
Exercise and Depression. (2016, February 24). Retrieved April 26, 2017, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression#1
Herrmann, L. K. (2012). An Explanatory Study of Gender and Exercise. Fitness and Fitting in, 48-49.
Kelly Resnicow, A. D. (2000). Go girls: Results from a nutrition and physical activity program for low- income, overweight African adolescent females. New York.
National Osteoporosis Foundation. (2017, April 22). Retrieved April 26, 2017, from What is Osteoporosis and What Causes it? : https://www.nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/
Shaw, G. (2007, December 4). Exercise: SOS for Menstrual Cycle. Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/women/features/exercise-eases-menstrual-cramps#1
Slimtree guide your fitness. (2017, 17 April). Retrieved April 26, 2017, from Why Women Need to Exercise: http://www.slimtree.com/articles/why-women-need-exercise
Uzoma, K. (2011, February 17). Livestrong.com. Retrieved April 26, 2017, from Can Exercising Stop Menstrual pain?: http://www.webmd.com/women/features/exercise-eases-menstrual-cramps#1
Wales, U. o. (2009, March 4). Why Do Women Store Fat Differently From Men? Retrieved April 26, 2017, from Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115755.htm