In between their demanding lifestyles, women need to be more deliberate about taking part in activities and exercises that are fun and give them a sense of community, while helping them stay fit and healthy. Dr Phatho Zondi, Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) Physician and Virgin Active South Africa’s expert on women’s health is here to share some female-focused exercise tips.
Find a tribe: Whether you join Virgin Active, a running club or a hiking group, exercising in a community offers comradery, accountability and a sense of safety, which is an important consideration for many women in South Africa. Even if you can’t meet up in person, technology has made exercise and finding your tribe even more accessible.
Don’t be intimated by strength training: This type of training helps you increase endurance, flexibility, and balance. It’s a great complement to any other activity you may do (like running or cycling), making you stronger and decreasing injury risk. Strength training also improves your metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass, which helps you to continue burning calories long after you’ve completed your workout session. Set up some time with a Personal Trainer to learn more about different types of strength exercises, correct technique, and equipment you can use to set you on your way.
Be mindful of your cycle: It’s natural for some women to feel stronger during certain times of the month or more sluggish at other times, as hormones fluctuate during their menstrual cycle. Make time for less high-power workouts that sync with your monthly cycle during the “low” time and modify your exercise routine to focus on gentler exercises such as walking, Yoga and Pilates.
Speaking of mindfulness: Introduce mindfulness into your daily routine through breathing exercises and guided meditation. These types of activities improve self-awareness, reduce stress and anxiety, and generally enhance emotional health. Never underestimate the power of affirmation in building your self-confidence and initiating positive change.
So important, it needs to be said twice: One of the most important considerations for women, as they begin to age or reach post-menopause is losing bone mass, which puts them at risk of osteoporosis. However, strength training and weight-bearing exercise can help with improving bone density and preventing bone loss as it encourages the osteogenic effect (bone growth). Other than a consistently well-balanced diet, this is one of the best ways to prevent age-related fractures and movement-related injuries in the future.
It’s so important to find a form of activity that works for you and your lifestyle, something that makes you happy while helping you to stay fit and healthy. I encourage all women to be bolder in owning whatever that might be and protecting it to ensure that they get that much-needed me-time.