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Health Benefits of Exercise For Women

Medically reviewed by Karyn Eilber, MD, Susan Kerrigan, MDAsma Khapra, MD, and Marianne Madsen on March 18. 2023

People exercise for all sorts of reasons: to have more self-confidence, to develop better endurance, to lose weight, or just to stay fit and healthy. No matter what reason you have for doing it, we can all agree that exercising is simply good for you. But although exercise mostly benefits men’s and women’s bodies equally, women get an exclusive set of perks from working out. Here are some of the ways exercise can specifically benefit women.


Exercise and weight loss


Yes, exercising helps both genders lose weight, but women often struggle to shed excess pounds more than men. Why? For starters, pregnancy usually adds some weight to a woman’s body that can be tough to get rid of. To reduce the risk of health problems, it’s important to adhere to a fitness regimen before, during, and after pregnancy. 


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Furthermore, when a woman goes through menopause, she loses muscle mass due to reduced hormone levels. Losing muscle mass causes one’s metabolism to slow down, making weight gain much easier. Staying sedentary during this time can increase risk of heart disease and diabetes, so exercising during this time is crucial as well. 


Exercise and mood


During their menstrual cycle, women often experience mood swings due to changing levels of hormones in the body. You’ve heard of the “runner’s high?” Exercise helps to combat mood swings via endorphins released. Endorphins are naturally occurring, mood-boosting chemicals. When you work out, these chemicals are generated in the body, and their effects can last the entire day. 


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Exercise and osteoporosis


Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak or brittle due to loss of bone density. Both men and women can develop it, but it’s far more likely in women. In fact, 8 out of 10 osteoporosis cases are female, likely due to the protective effect of estrogen on bones that is lost with menopause.  


No one wants weak bones, but luckily, there’s a solution: exercise. Working out actually promotes the development of strong, healthy bones, at any age, especially weight bearing exercise as this stimulates bone turnover. As long as you’re strengthening your muscles, your bones are getting a workout too, so it doesn’t matter what type of exercise you prefer.

Exercise and skin


Women and skin care go together like bread and butter. It turns out, though, that exercising may actually benefit the skin. Researchers have discovered that working out improves the skin’s composition and gives it a more youthful appearance. So as an adjunct to your skin care regimen, try going for a run a few times a week.


Exercise and breast cancer


Breast cancer is the single most deadly cancer diagnosed in women. However, studies show that exercise can lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer by up to 20%. You may want to consider adopting an exercise routine to help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, but especially if breast cancer runs in your family.


Written by Natan Rosenfeld

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