Women’s health experienced more challenges in 2021 than 2020, according to the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index, a multiyear, comprehensive global survey about women’s health. Multiple countries were scored based on women’s responses to questions regarding general health, preventative care, mental health, safety and basic needs like food and shelter. The score was 53 out of 100 in 2021, one point lower than in 2020.
“When women suffer, so does everyone around them.” This statement is a call to action for personal trainers and group fitness instructors, who have unique, daily interaction opportunities. Education is a good place to start. Do you know at least five of the most common women’s health issues? And do you know how to support your female clients in addressing these concerns?
See also: Diet and Exercise During Pregnancy Pays Off
Five Common Women’s Health Issues
Understanding the following five women’s health issues can help you in your program and class design. The more you know, the more empowered you are to offer informed tips that will support your clients.
- Heart Disease. The number one killer of both men and women, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One person dies every 34 seconds, and women are often underdiagnosed.
- Breast Cancer. The most common cancer among women, second to lung cancer, is breast cancer. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, an estimated 287,500 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in U.S. women this year.
- Osteoporosis. The Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation reports that of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about 8 million or 80% are women.
- Depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the prevalence of major depressive episode is higher among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).
- Autoimmune diseases. A group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues, autoimmune diseases include more than 80 chronic illnesses. The Autoimmune Association reports that 80% of those living with autoimmune disease are women.
Here’s the good news: Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are proven factors in avoiding risk for all of the above concerns, and fitness professionals are important allies for women.
See also: Optimism and Women’s Health
Be an Advocate
Who better than fitness professionals to advocate for women’s health? With the right approach to behavior modification and program design, a healthy outcome is within reach.
Be on the “plus” side—IDEAfit+—so that you can help your female clients and participants stay healthy and strong.
As a member, you have access to vast content and resources, and we’ve featured a small fraction of our library below. If you’re not a member, you can still access this education and get a feel for our community.
Boost Women’s Health With These Resources:
Breast Cancer Survivors and Group Exercise
Research shows that exercise benefits breast cancer survivors, but many do not stick with programs. What might appeal enough to increase adherence? A pilot study found that group exercise designed specifically for people surviving breast cancer resulted in more improvements to quality of life than similar exercise programming led by personal trainers. The study is available in Oncology Nursing Forum (2019; doi:10.1188/19.0NF.185-97).
Cardiovascular Fitness for Women
Cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in women, is a class of diseases involving the heart and blood vessels. Learn about this disease, its associated risk factors and the pertinent research developments; then consider the practical training guidelines for clients.
Research Update: The Value of Exercise for Women’s Health
Fitness pros have a unique opportunity to take a leadership role by guiding their female clients toward a healthier, movement-oriented lifestyle. This women’s health research update discusses contemporary scientific findings you can use to educate your clients and plan up-to-date programs.
Menopause Symptoms: Can Yoga Help?
"Joanne," aged 51, presents with hot flashes and vaginal atrophy. She feels depressed, anxious, irritable, fatigued and not as confident in herself as she once was. Somehow she feels out of control. Her body is behaving unpredictably: She doesn't know when her next hot flash is coming or how to control the fat that is shifting up toward her waist.
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