Women, Physical Inactivity, and the Role of Physiotherapy

Regular physical activity can improve women’s health and help prevent a number of diseases and conditions that cause disability and death in women around the world.

Sport England recently commissioned research into women aged 14 to 40. They found 2 million fewer women played sport regularly than men, but 75% of them would like to be more active. What could be stopping them?

Lack of Physical Activity in Women

Physical inactivity has been identified as a serious global public health problem associated a wide range of preventable diseases and has been classified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.
Women are more likely to lead sedentary lifestyles than men. Many factors hinder the participation of women in physical activity. These include the following:

  • The income of women is often lower than that of men and therefore the costs of access to physical activity facilities may be a barrier.
  • Women may need approval from senior members of the household who control household resources before they can engage in physical activity.
  • Women often have a workload in the home and care-giving roles for other family members, limiting the time for them to engage in physical activity.
  • Women with limited mobility may have travelling difficulties to physical activity facilities.
  • Cultural principles may restrict women’s participation in certain forms of physical activity.

Aside from time and money, research found that one of the biggest barriers to physical activity was fear of judgement. Fear of judgement for not being the right size, not being fit enough, and not being skilled enough.

Dangers of Inactive Lifestyle

Being a couch potato could be more hazardous to health than smoking or carrying extra weight. Women with sedentary behaviour are at higher risk for a number of diseases and earlier death.

Other facts about physical inactivity include:

  • Less active, less fit people are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure
  • Lack of physical activity may increase the risk of certain cancers particularly colon and breast cancers.
  • Physical inactivity is a huge contributor to heart disease, where people who are sedentary have the highest rate of heart attack.
  • People who don’t perform regular physical activity are more likely to suffer from depression.
  • Bone loss progresses much faster in people who are physically inactive.
  • Lack of physical activity increases the loss of lean muscle tissue, making day-to-day activities difficult to perform.

 

What Can Physiotherapists Do?

We all know that exercise has health benefits that include physical and mental well-being. In physiotherapy practice, exercise is one of its pillars.

 

Physiotherapists are seen to be experts in the promotion of physical activity. Clients/patients and other health professionals respect their advice concerning health issues. This places them in the best position to advocate and influence their client’s participation in physical activity.

 

Physiotherapists explore barriers to physical activity such as fear and collaboratively looking at potential solutions, which can increase engagement with exercise.
Happy Physio encourages women as well as men to participate in physical activity. If you need help with the right kind of exercise, talk to any of our Perth physiotherapists at (08) 9444 8729 today!