According to Everyday Health’s Special Report: State of Women’s Wellness 2017, 21 percent of those surveyed cited fitness as a factor that positively affects their personal wellness. Fitness ranked higher than other factors, such as relationships and financial security, but the vast majority of women said it had no effect on — or even negatively affected — their well-being. This suggests that many women either aren’t sure how fitness can practically improve their lives, or how to effectively make it part of their wellness routine.
The survey results are consistent with the fact that nearly 80 percent of adults don’t meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG) released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2008. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), women are even less likely than men to meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
Most of us know that exercise is good for you. People who are physically active tend to live longer and lower their risk for disease. On the other hand, the negative health implications of physical inactivity are significant — inadequate levels of exercise are associated with $117 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to data in a study published in 2015 in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 10 premature deaths in this country could be prevented by exercise. In terms of specific health conditions, physical activity could prevent:
The physical and mental health benefits of exercise include:
There are also less obvious health benefits to physical activity, such as improving blood flow to the skin, which can stave off signs of aging; triggering the release of endorphins that promote positive emotions; and reducing the premenstrual symptoms of fatigue and depression.
Women surveyed by Everyday Health also ranked fitness as one of their top wellness challenges — along with factors such as stress and lack of sleep. This may be due, in part, to the reasons people commonly cite for not exercising, from not having enough time or access to resources such as parks and gyms, to a lack of motivation and confidence.
But for many individuals, health conditions that could benefit from varying levels of activity pose the greatest fitness challenge of all. Chronic conditions affect nearly half of all adults, according to the CDC, and managing a condition or illness was the top-ranked wellness challenge among women in the Everyday Health survey. The symptoms associated with chronic conditions, such as pain and fatigue, become obstacles to physical activity.
As a senior editor at Everyday Health, I cover psoriatic disease — psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. There are 7.5 million Americans living with psoriasis, making it the most prevalent autoimmune disease in this country. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, approximately 30 percent of those people will develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes painful joint swelling and stiffness.
For people with psoriatic arthritis, physical activity can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Yet even light to moderate exercise can help maintain the muscle strength and joint mobility that are critical to managing the disease. Range-of-motion exercises, strength training, and endurance exercises may also be options, depending on the severity of the disease.
Researchers found that people with arthritis who did at least 45 minutes of moderate exercise a week were 80 percent more likely to maintain or even improve their physical function over two years, according to a study published in February 2017 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
Exercise can also reduce the risk of developing comorbidities common to people with psoriatic disease, likely the result of systemic inflammation. According to a study published in December 2015 in the International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, psoriatic arthritis is associated with an increased risk for conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study cites related research recommending that patients review physical activity goals with their rheumatologist at least once yearly.
Apart from providing general health benefits, physical fitness can help manage many conditions other than psoriatic disease. Among them:
Rheumatoid Arthritis A review published in the Journal of Aging Research found that properly designed exercise programs increased muscle mass and improved physical function in rheumatoid arthritis patients without exacerbating the disease or joint damage.
Multiple Sclerosis According to research published in August 2016 in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, exercise has been associated with a reduced relapse rate, lower lesion volume, and improved mobility in people with multiple sclerosis.
Cancer A review published online in the journal Recent Results in Cancer Research found that the risk of breast cancer was 25 percent lower in women who were the most physically active compared with those who were least active. A study published in June 2016 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that leisure-time physical activity was associated with a lower risk of 13 types of cancer.
There’s no one-size-fits all formula for optimizing the role fitness plays in your wellness. To find the best fitness plan for you, the Personal Activity Guidelines suggest considering three factors. First, identify the benefits of physical activities that are of most value to you. Second, set personal goals that are realistic, safe, and planned out with your healthcare provider. Finally, develop the knowledge that you need to reach those fitness goals and guide your overall wellness.
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Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to work out with a trio of Olympic athletes who are slated to compete in the PyeongChang Winter Games in February. And while I was quickly reminded that I’m nowhere near the endurance of an Olympian after 30 minutes of intense circuit drills, it was nice to train like one.
One of the Olympians I was able to meet was Elana Meyers Taylor. The bobsledder for the women’s U.S. team was on hand in Soho to help keep participants encouraged during a run through of the upcoming Team USA Bootcamp class offered by 24 Hour Fitness. The fitness center chain is a sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and a training facility for Olympic athletes. Their bootcamp class will be offered in all club markets in January in an effort to help you push your body the way athletes like Meyers Taylor do with cardio challenges and circuits that work the entire body.
As I threw my body down to the ground for different moves, behind me was Meyers Taylor, doing the same. When we had to join arms and hold a painful crunch while sitting for 60 seconds, she was next to me, telling everyone they could do it. She treated me, and many others, like her bobsled teammates and was able to get through the moves without breaking much of a sweat. But as someone who spends a good chunk of the year (April to October) training up to six hours a day, it makes sense. She’s no joke.
Seeing her discipline and hearing of her success, I also wanted to know her story. I talked to the 33-year-old Olympic silver and bronze medalist and 2x World Champion about how she trains her body, the strict diet she’s on to meet her goals, and why she’s excited to see more Black women enter the sport of bobsledding.
MadameNoire: I know you had a background playing softball, so how did you get from doing that to bobsledding? It’s a major jump.
Elana Meyers Taylor: I grew up playing a multitude of sports. I went to college, George Washington University, and played softball there. I also played professionally, but with the real goal of being an Olympian and making the Olympic team. Softball was taken out of the Olympics in 2008, so I was going for that last team. But I had a tryout and it was an absolute disaster, so I knew I wasn’t going to make that team. But I still had this dream of being an Olympian, so I was like, “I’ve got to do something.” My parents saw bobsledding on TV, and they actually saw Vonetta Flowers, an African American and the first one to win an Olympic gold medal. They saw her and said, “Hey, she’s big, strong and fast, you are too. Maybe you could do this.” So I was like, “Sure, why not?” and simply emailed the coach for suggestions and got invited to Lake Placid, New York for a tryout. I googled it and emailed the coach. Google is amazing [laughs].
What is your go-to training regimen? And when you’re short on time, as a bobsledder, what part of your body do you always make sure you focus on?
So we train like Olympic sprinters and Olympic lifters, so I don’t run long distances. I do very short distances, like 30 to 60 meters. It’s pretty cool because you can fit that in in most places so when we’re traveling and things like that, I can go in the parking lot and run 30 meters usually. New York doesn’t have many parking lots but that’s ok [laughs]. But then, also, in Olympic lifting we do a lot of lower body stuff so my lower body is crazy important — developing leg strength and things like that. I’m a squat person, I love squats, I love back squats, things like that. So if all else fails, I’ll do some kind of lower body circuit to just kind of get my blood flowing down there because it’s all lower body work.
What are your top three lower body moves? As you said, lower body strength is integral for what bobsledding requires. And these days, people want to have their calf muscles popping and their quads and hamstrings toned, so what moves work not just for Olympians but everyone looking to increase lower body strength?
Squats for sure! RDLs [Romanian Deadlifts]. I have small hamstrings, but it’s super important to balance it out. If you’re going to squat a lot, you have to have strong hamstrings just so your balance doesn’t look crazy. But also, as far as lower body exercises, we do a lot of power cleans and snatches and things, so real Olympic lifting.
What type of eating habits do you have to cultivate to not only just train well but to also be ready to compete? Many athletes don’t do a lot of indulging because they’re focused on the end goal. Is your diet similar?
So it’s actually changed quite a bit. I’ve been on every type of nutrition plan you can think of. High fat, low carb, Atkins — all this kind of stuff because we are a weight sport. When I turned 13, I was 5’7″, 175 pounds. I’ve always been a big girl. And for our sport, it’s usually a good thing, but the problem is, they take our weight as a total. The sled, the brakeman and the driver. What that means is you can’t be over a certain amount. So if your sled weighs a certain amount, then the brakeman and the driver have to make up the difference for that. So we’re always controlling that aspect. The problem in the U.S. is that we have great, beautiful big girls competing in the sport, but I can’t make weight with them because they’re big but fast and strong. I would love to be able to race with them, but I have to constantly watch my weight in order to make sure I can. It’s a good problem to have. We’ve got plenty of great athletes behind me, it’s just making sure to make weight. So I strictly control how much I eat. I have about 1700 calories a day, but I count my macros. So I only have a certain amount of proteins, a certain amount of fat, a certain amount of carbs every single day. Within that though, I’m pretty flexible in what I can actually have. So instead of looking at it like, you absolutely can’t have any sugar, if I want to have a piece of chocolate, I’d rather have one small piece of chocolate on a given day than wait until some expiration date and then go binge on everything and then I’m up five pounds. So I try to have a more balanced approach than a lot of other athletes. I don’t really drink because I’m not a big drinker. I just try to incorporate something if I really feel like I want it. I incorporate and revolve my diet around it. Maybe just have some extra vegetables that day or cut out extra carbs that day or something like that.
I know you got in bobsledding as an opportunity to be an Olympian. But I have noticed more and more women of color working and seeking to take part in this sport. There was even a Nigerian team trying to raise money for a sled so they could train and compete. So what advice would you offer other people who want to take this route and want to try a sport as difficult as bobsledding?
Contact me [laughs]. Fortunately, since I started driving in 2010 after the Vancouver games, I’ve taken a very active role in recruiting. So a large part of the influx of women of color has been because I’ve just started recruiting more people. I no longer leave it up to somebody to flip through channels and find bobsledders.
Unfortunately, the winter Olympics previously wasn’t a sporting event watched by huge amounts of people of color because it just didn’t relate. So I’ve gone out and made sure we’ve recruited NCAA track champions and even Lolo Jones and Lauren Williams, track champions from other sports, and just tried to increase the popularity of our sport and get women. I don’t care what sport they’re from, I don’t care what they look like, just into the sport and try and get a larger population size. So the biggest thing we look for in athletes is that you just have to be willing to open yourself up to new opportunities. Whether it’s just taking that role and saying, “I don’t know anything about this but I’m just going to try anyway,” and that’s something that’s applicable to more than just sports. You graduate from college and you’re in a position, you’re maybe a sociology major, but there’s no jobs in sociology, you have to open yourself up. It’s something you have to do if you’re going to be successful in any Olympic sport. Just open yourself up to different opportunities. Be willing to start at the bottom and work as hard as you can.
Last question: Are you or are you not a Cool Runnings fan as a bobsledder? [laughs]
Of course! You have to be a Cool Runnings fan. I think they need to update it.
A women’s one?
Yes, exactly. I think the explosion of African Americans and women of color in our sport is extraordinary. I think that’s a story that hasn’t really been told. The Nigerian team, yes, they’re getting press, but we’ve had our women’s team in the Olympics for the U.S., five out of six of the women were women of color. There is an opportunity for women of all shapes and sizes within our sport. And I feel like that’s a story that needs to be told, whether it’s an update on the Jamaican team, and they do have a women’s team and they’re competing, or it’s just telling our story, or the Nigerian story. But it’s been a really beautiful thing. I got a message from a Romanian driver. Romania, you think of a typical all-white gymnastics team and all-white country. When you think eastern European you don’t think Black. She called me up and she’s like, “Hey! We’ve got a Black girl on the team now!” And I was like “…cool!” I mean, it’s really great that there’s diversity across the world now and they’re really accepting women of color across the world, but it was just kind of funny. Like, I don’t know how you want me to take this but thank you for letting me know! [laughs] So it’s been really cool to see the growth and development of our sport.
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When fitness junkie Carolina Gunnarsson got pregnant for the first time, she wasn’t prepared for how it would affect her workouts—and it wasn’t just about the physical transformations her body was going through. “I used to go to SoulCycle or SLT, and I didn’t feel like I could do that when I was pregnant,” she says. (Hey, not all women are as comfortable tapping it back with a baby on board as Beyonce, and that’s totally fine.) More than that, she says, “I didn’t want to spend the money because I had to modify so much. But I missed my regular group classes.”
Now, she’s hoping to prevent other women from feeling the same sense of fitness FOMO by opening a boutique studio—where every class is designed with expectant (or new moms) in mind—called Fit Pregnancy Club. The space, which Gunnarsson’s co-founded with fellow mom and avid exerciser Joanie Johnson, opened in the Soho area of Manhattan on October 16, and is the first of its kind in New York City. It offers a range of cardio and strength-training classes for all stages of pregnancy, each incorporating their signature “pump and kegel” breathing and pelvic floor exercise, to help women prep for labor and delivery.
“I was just horrified by what’s happened in the fitness industry with pregnant women. We’re just kind of pushed off to the side.” —Joanie Johnson
A major focus at FPC is on making it a safe place where women can work out feeling confident that the classes are being created with pregnant women in mind—not just being modified for them, which is something Johnson, who’s a certified pre- and postnatal corrective exercise specialist with Fit For Birth, says she found personally challenging while pregnant: “I would walk into a workout class, and I would tell the instructors I was pregnant, and you could just see the fear on their faces. I was just horrified by what’s happened in the fitness industry with pregnant women. We’re just kind of pushed off to the side.”
Besides providing pregnant women and new moms with a safe environment where they don’t have to worry if something they’re doing will hurt their bodies (or their babies), Johnson says she hopes FPC will also be a community for women—not just moms. (The first rule of fit club definitely isn’t that you have to be expecting or have given birth to join—classes cost $40 and are open to the public.)
“Our goal is to create a space where pregnant women can get that workout, where they’re getting what they need, where they have a community that we want to become a resource for,” says Johnson. “It’s so much more beneficial for women to workout in pregnancy than to not.” Bonus if you get to do it with other women who’ve also swapped their burpees for baby bumps.
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Although traditional attitudes that regard women as the weaker sex still dominatethe fitness industry, statistics have shown that more women are choosing to become trainers.
Those in the industry say they are seeing more women enter because of an increased awareness of health issues and growing numbers of female clients.
Meanwhile, the fitness market has evolved from its traditional focus on weightlifting to incorporating more aerobic exercise, for which female trainers are in demand.
“I strongly believe that one’s gender should not determine whether you are fit for the industry or not,” Shiu said. “Your drive and hunger to lead and educate your clients should be the deciding factor.”
The percentage of personal trainers in the city accounted for by women has doubled in the past year, from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, according to a recent study by the Asian Academy for Sports and Fitness Professionals (AASFP), a local institute that trains and qualifies fitness staff.
But Hong Kong still has some catching up to do on the gender gap. In the United States, some 54 per cent of personal trainers are women, according to a study published by the US National Institutes of Health.
Hong Kong does not have a unified registration system for personal trainers, but the AASFP estimates that the total number employed by gym centres could be as many as 20,000, of whom 4,000 are women.
One of Hong Kong’s biggest gym chains, Pure Fitness, has seen a 30 per cent increase in female trainers at its centres in the past two years, regional fitness operations director Marco Ferdinandi said.
“Personal training is becoming a more respected career choice, especially when a healthy lifestyle is becoming a cornerstone of what most people see as a successful life,” he said. “This is naturally attracting more passionate men and women who enjoy helping others.”
According to the AASFP, the number of gyms in Hong Kong, including yoga and martial arts studios, rose from 608 in 2012 to 743 this year.
Ferdinandi said one of the challenges for the industry was to meet the growing consumer demand for ways to live a healthy lifestyle, and he believed this trend would create a greater need for personal trainers.
AASFP marketing and communications manager Gordon Yau Yick-chung said more young women had signed up for the academy’s training courses. In one course this year, 12 out of 40 students were women, compared to one in 40 last year.
He said more women employees in the fitness industry had helped attract a diverse range of new clients, including many who did not enjoy traditional weight training.
Janice Kau Wan-na, 27, who started working out in 2015, said she found her female trainer a better motivator than a man.
“Because, as a woman, I can always look to my female trainer as a role model,” she said. “I know if I work hard enough I can be as fit as her one day.”
Kau, who recently changed to a male trainer for a different type of workout, said female trainers generally focused more on toning the body by using high-intensity interval training. That method involves clients doing exercises in short bursts that focus on specific body parts.
By contrast, she said, her male trainer tended to use more weightlifting exercises for building muscles.
Ferdinandi pointed out that exercise regimes had evolved from men doing free-weight training and women doing aerobics, to becoming a “very nuanced and personal experience”. He stressed that the demographics in the fitness sectorhad evolved to become more mindset-driven than gender-based.
Yau agreed. “Not everyone would love to be muscular. Female personal trainers have advantages in doing high-intensity interval training,” he said.
“I think male and female personal trainers can work together well in the industry.”
Dr Lobo Louie Hung-tak, an associate professor at the department of physical education at Baptist University, said many women preferred using female trainers because they felt more comfortable with them when it came to physical contact.
Stephanie Siu Hoi-ying, 25, who signed up for a gym membership in 2015, said she felt more comfortable with a woman when describing the goals she wanted to achieve for her body.
“The one thing I really wanted to focus on was enhancing the muscles on my butt, and I felt more comfortable discussing that with my female personal trainer,” she said.
Louiepointed out that more and more women were doing sport, not only because they wanted a healthier lifestyle, but because sportswear brands had increasingly targeted women.
“The men’s market is pretty much well covered,” he said. “And it makes sense for these companies to expand to a bigger pool. Women are a big market for them. For example, it’s not uncommon for a woman to have five pairs of running shoes.”
Siu admitted she was attracted to sports partly because she enjoyed buying fashionable sportswear.
But Ferdinandi said that, no matter whether a man or a woman, the most important thing when hitting the gym was what a person wanted to achieve.
“I believe the criteria for most people when it comes to choosing a fitness professional are quality, integrity and dedication to your personal goals,” he said, “regardless of whether you are male or female.”
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I get the fun, fame and feeling of fabulous-ness that we women derive from posting body pics all over social media. However, as we all very well know, our bodies are for much more than selfies and sensationalism. They carry us through life, they nourish our spirits and as cliché as it may read, our bodies truly are our temples. That’s why it’s important that we take some time to honor our physiques through rest and relaxation, nourishment and nutrition and work outs that help us “work it!”
September 27, 2017 is National Women’s Wellness and Fitness Day. Across America, organizations will host health promotion events focused on physical activity and health awareness for women. We’re talking a collage of wellness screenings, group walks, info workshops and public exercise demos; a much-needed campaign too, when you consider that less than half of us are actually getting a healthy amount of physical activity. What’s more, almost 35% of adult women are battling hypertension and now heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease have become our top three causes of death.
Why can’t we seem to stay active? Well let’s see: 75% of us don’t get to the gym for fear that we’ll be judged while we’re there. It’s become such “a thing,” that it’s termed “gymtimidation.” Then there’s the common reasons/excuses… too tired, too much to do and the like. I get it. I feel it too.
Still, we have to try harder because the benefits of being active are simply undeniable. Physical activity has been linked to psychological health by lessening stress, anxiety and depression. It’s also been thought to build self-esteem, confidence and social wellness. I’m not talking about running marathons or power-lifting, here. According to the surgeon general, just 30 minutes of brisk walking or 15-20 minutes of jogging, could do the trick. That’s right, living a fuller, longer life is that easy. So let’s get up, get out and get moving!
This National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, make a commitment to live a more active life. I’ve enlisted the help of a few women who are really “working it,” to help show you how! Here’s what they had to say:
1. WARM UP.
“Always warm up the bigger muscles first. To get a great Ab work out, work your legs out first. You tire them out and then do your Abs that way you won’t cheat and use your legs.” We can thank award winning Hollywood stuntwoman Angela Meryl, for this tip. Angela has been one of the top stuntwomen in Hollywood for over 20 years, doubling for Halle Berry, Vanessa Williams, Sanaa Lathan, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Angela Bassett, Gabriel Union, Vivica A. Fox and others. She is a former model, rising comedian and author of Stunts: The How To Handbook: Secrets from an Award Winning Hollywood Stuntwoman.“ I like a good challenge from working out to going to work every day. It’s different no matter what I’m doing. At the end of the day it feels really satisfying to know I challenged myself and worked hard. I look forward to doing it again the next day!”-Angela Meryl: www.angela-Meryl.com
2. FIND GOOD PARTNERS.
“Most of us need others to hold us accountable to showing up and doing the work. So find some partners that are likewise committed to taking care of themselves and being the best they can be.” Those are the words of Tarra Mitchell, author of The Yoga of Leadership. She has combined her extensive experience in advising entrepreneurs and executives on financing and marketing strategies across the globe with her intensive study of the science of yoga, to create a guide for everyone interested in becoming a more effective and fulfilled leader. She helps people utilize the ancient philosophy of Yoga to empower, transform and heal themselves. “I choose a mix of exercise, yoga and meditation that allows me to keep my mind balanced and body strong. I strongly believe that a balanced mind is essential to success, high-performance, and great leadership.” – Tarra Mitchell: www.tarramitchell.com
“If you don’t have time to work out at the gym there are many resources available to help you create a routine of exercises that you can do at home. Choose a time and commit to it!” That motivation is brought to you by Gyana Mella, a NYC-based Physical Theatre Performer, Teaching Artist, Education Director and mother. She is also a fitness competitor who began by training herself at home and has taken home multiple trophies. Recently , she qualified to compete at a National Level. “My strength is as powerful as my will, it’s as big as my will. Will always precedes actions, actions precede change. If your will is un-bendable, unbreakable and indomitable nothing can ever stop you”. – Gyana Mella: www.singlemomdaily.com
4.BALANCE YOUR ROUTINE.
“Many fitness and sports related activities strengthen or overuse certain muscles and joint ranges of motion. I’m a fan of bodyweight training like pushups, yoga, pullups, etc. because with proper form, the movements tend to target more whole-body activation. This feels more functional to me, meaning your strength is more useful in everyday activities, as well as giving your body access to better form and strength in your workout or sport of choice.” That’s great advice from Erinina Marie Ness who has been a performance artist for 20 years, everywhere from Circus Tents and Cabarets to Villages in Peru. A professional aerial and fitness performer and coach, she is also the Inventor of the Fire Trapeze. “My art and my coaching have a common thread in that I want to inspire people to move beyond what they think is possible in their lives. Learning to climb a silk, achieve a pull-up, or seeing something on stage that shakes preconceived notions, all fall into this category, or mission statement, if you will. And having a healthy body can make it so much more possible for an individual, physically and mentally.” – Erinina Marie Ness: www.erininamarieness.com
“Find music you love! If it’s a good beat and gets you motivated, that song and others like it, is what you should work out to. You won’t feel like you are working out!” That tip comes to us from Selena Watkins – fitness trainer, dancer, choreographer, model, Miss Black USA, SoulCycle Instructor and Women’s Health Magazine’s 2016 Next Fitness Star. Selena has danced and choreographed for NBA Dance teams and has performed with Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Janelle Monae, Alison Hinds and more. She is the CEO and founder of SOCANOMICS, the hottest Caribbean dance cardio & total body workout. “I do what I do because, movement is essential to maintaining an excellent quality of life. We have to nurture these vessels that we use every day.” – Selena Watkins: www.selenawatkins.com
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FRIDAY, Sept. 8, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Women who breast-fed at least one child appear to have a lower risk for developing endometriosis, new research suggests.
Endometriosis is a chronic and often painful condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus grows outside of the reproductive organ on the fallopian tubes, ovaries or another area.
“We found that women who breast-fed for a greater duration were less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis,” said study author Leslie Farland. She is a research scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“Given the chronic nature of endometriosis and that very few modifiable risk factors are currently known, breast-feeding may be an important modifiable behavior to reduce the risk of endometriosis among women after pregnancy,” Farland said in a hospital news release.
The study involved thousands of women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II. That study began in 1989, and the women were tracked for two decades. The researchers found that during this time, nearly 3,300 of the women were diagnosed with endometriosis after giving birth to their first child.
The research team then focused on breast-feeding behavior among the women. Specifically, the researchers considered how long the women nursed their infants, when they introduced solid food or formula, and how much time passed before their first postpartum period.
The women’s risk for endometriosis fell by 8 percent for every three additional months they breast-fed after each pregnancy, the findings showed. Their risk dropped 14 percent for every extra three months of exclusive breast-feeding after each pregnancy.
The researchers also looked at a woman’s lifetime risk. Women who exclusively breast-feed for a cumulative 18 months or more during their reproductive years (which may include multiple pregnancies) have a nearly 30 percent lower risk for endometriosis, the study found.
The temporary pause in periods while women are breast-feeding shortly after birth may partially explain their lower risk for endometriosis, the study authors suggested. The hormonal changes associated with breast-feeding could also play a role.
However, it’s not entirely clear if women who breast-feed are less likely to develop endometriosis or if they are just less likely to become symptomatic and seek out a surgical evaluation to confirm the diagnosis.
“Our findings lend support to the body of public health and policy literature that advocates for the promotion of breast-feeding,” Farland said.
“Our work has important implications for advising women who are looking to lower their risk of endometriosis. We hope that future research will illuminate whether breast-feeding could help lessen the symptoms of endometriosis among women who have already been diagnosed,” she added.
About 10 percent of women in the United States are affected by endometriosis, the researchers said. Symptoms of the condition include pain in the lower part of the belly, painful periods and pain during sex.
The study was published recently in the BMJ.
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Laurie A. Watkins is a speaker & coach, the author of Go from Stressed to Strong: Health and Fitness Advice from High Achievers, and creator of courses like Command Your Day Now. While working to get President Barack Obama elected in 2008, Laurie came close to burnout. The long hours, lightning-speed pace, and demands of the job as a political director eventually took their toll on her health. At first, she made small changes which brought temporary relief, but the problems only followed her to Washington, DC & into her next job at the Pentagon. Falling into the same unhealthy patterns as she did on the campaign trail & fearing disaster, she made the decision to take drastic control of her life.
In 2010, Laurie joined a gym, changed her diet, eating habits, sleeping habits, and learned how to efficiently manage her time and stress even while working in a high performing job. Then in 2012, Laurie was asked to return to campaign work as President Obama’s policy director in Florida. Fearful that all the hard work and progress she made with her health and fitness since the last campaign would be destroyed by the horrendous and unsustainable schedule, she developed her own program. With a mastery in five areas – time management, sleep, food, fitness, and stress management – this program allowed Laurie to align her professional and personal life, and to find her own strength in the face of adversity.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Economist Robert Reich has called team-building, leadership, and management ability essential qualities for the entrepreneur. I honed in on those skills early on, tracing all the way back to my school days and earliest job opportunities. I now run my own business as a consultant, author, and speaker, on the many aspects of stress, time management, and wellness; which include nutrition and exercise, all based on my book, Go from Stressed to Strong: Health & Fitness Advice from High Achievers. And, while working in political campaigns, public policy, and government, I managed a disparate group of people and interests while working towards common goals of improving our communities and solving societal problems. At the Department of Defense, I helped manage complex projects and installations, including supply chain management and personnel coordination, just as in any other large and complex business. In the private sector, I pursued business development opportunities for my employer, which required initiative, persuasion, and salesmanship; and in academia I was a guest lecturer at the United States Military Academy where I played a small part in educating tomorrow’s Army leaders. My education, mentors, and experience helped shape the leader I am today.
How has your previous employment experience aided your current role?
I have worked in a diverse set of high-pressure industries for nearly twenty years, most of them male-dominated. I have had the opportunity to both observe the challenges that other professionals, particularly women, face in such fields, as well as observe the qualities and behaviors that led some of those professionals to great heights of success. It is those success stories that I highlight in my book, and those professionals’ needs that I hope to target and address. Because I’ve been one of them, and continue to be one of them, I believe that gives me more credibility to speak to their experience. Above all, I value respect in the workplace. It is up to all of us working professionals to influence a culture of respect, and civility in the workplace, coming together to achieve a common goal. Because, that’s the definition of TEAM.
What have been the highlights and challenges?
Like any entrepreneur, I was frightened to give up a steady paycheck for the uncertainty of self-employment. But larger than the financial uncertainty was the worry about whether my book and my business would truly find an audience, and whether people would really find my words and advice helpful and worth listening to. The highlight has been finding that the answer is yes! It is simultaneously thrilling and humbling to learn when I have made even a tiny difference in someone’s life, outlook, and choices. To be able to speak and write to audiences is exciting, and powerful. My greatest hope is that I am actually helping someone unleash their brilliance, taking them from stressed to strong.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Write, write, write! It is so important to find your voice, and to find your audience. Think about what truly sets you apart, and what makes your voice and your message a little different from what’s already out there. And get those words on the page or the screen, and published! It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, an email newsletter, or a publishing deal with a major company – you can’t help anyone if they can’t read your work. All other aspects of the business – the speaking engagements, the consulting, and additional revenue streams – stem from your words, so get those words out there!
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
It’s important to trust your gut, while also trusting your team. No one does anything alone, particularly starting a new business. It is so crucially important that you and everyone on your team share the same vision and values. Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s easy to look back and say, “Oh, I should have listened to that nagging voice in my head at that particular moment,” but if you do that too much you’ll end up driving yourself crazy. On the other hand, if you don’t examine where things went both right and wrong, you’ll keep making the same mistakes. Think of it as a balancing act, where you examine the past, but only so far as it helps you to make better decisions in the future. The most important thing to remember is that the stability of your decision will depend on trusting your own instincts, and trusting those people around you who may have more experience in a particular area.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Well, that’s literally the topic of my book and my consulting business! The most important aspect or step is radical honesty: what do each of our choices really entail? What’s the real cost and real reward, long-term? Change has the potential of bringing an unlimited number of positive effects to someone’s life. But in order to be ready to make a change, you have to admit there is a problem or that something warrants change. If there are things in your life that no longer make you happy, there is usually a reason. And while this may be tough to hear… often times you are the person behind the reason you are unhappy due to your own choices. Once you identify the cause, only then can you work to correct, eliminate, or change it. It’s important that you trust yourself and that you make the right decision. By executing your first “self-nudge”, which starts by changing one thing today, you are on the road to making positive, healthier changes to your road map to life. Everything in life is a choice.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Obviously, the pay gap is a huge issue, and it’s even worse for women of color. But ultimately that’s a symptom of a larger issue, which is that women aren’t taken as seriously as men in the workplace, partly because we don’t take ourselves as seriously. We tend to internalize a lot of the messages that are thrown around about women in the workplace, and that can lead to unnecessary self-doubt and holding ourselves back. Study after study show that, for example, women are measurably more likely to be interrupted at meetings, are less likely to take credit for work done as part of a team, and are more likely to have personal qualities noted over professional ones in evaluations. And this isn’t necessarily a man vs. woman thing, because women can be a part of these trends, too. But if we are aware of them, if we keep them in mind, if we refuse to dismiss the nagging voice that says, “This isn’t normal; I’m not mad,” then we can change it.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I stand today if it wasn’t for the guidance, time, and wisdom given to me by such a brilliant group of women and men that I’m so blessed to have in my inner circle. Having a mentor is wonderful, but it also brings great responsibility on the part of the mentee. And it should! A mentor’s role is to quite simply help open doors of opportunity. While you may get lucky and also receive professional and personal enrichment, that’s not always the norm. Most of the work comes from you. And if you do get lucky enough to meet the mentor of your dreams, I suggest you hold onto them as tightly as you can. The great ones are like unicorns. You can start by making sure you thank them. I am thoughtful and sincere in my expression of appreciation and I always follow up by sending a hand-written “thank you” note. I always do the research on how heavy the lift, possible outcomes, and the likelihood for success before I even make an ask. Because I never want to leave my mentor feeling as if their gesture was a waste of time. And I always make a point to give more than I receive. We all should. It’s a fact that there is more than enough success to be had in the world without wasting time and energy trying to keep someone else from getting it. I make time regularly to help open doors for other colleagues, young women and men, and especially for those finding themselves at a crossroads. Why do I do this? Because I can. I have the network, and I have the resources. Why wouldn’t I want to share that with someone if it will contribute to their success?! The answer is easy.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I am inspired by and admire so many strong women in my life that it’s hard to list them all appropriately. I am inspired by Malala Yousafzai, and Danielle LaPorte for their truth, self-compassion, and brilliance. I admire Sheryl Sandberg for her strength as a mother, philanthropist, and a highly-public tech executive who chose to use her voice and platform on behalf of women in the workplace, advocating for better equality. I also admire Sara Blakely, fellow Florida State University Alum, and Founder/CEO, Spanx. She had an idea, ignored the nay-sayers, listened to her gut, and found a way to fill a need for women (and now men), becoming the world leader in the shapewear industry. Through achieving success, she created a mechanism and foundation that aligns with her mission to support women, and constantly gives back to those looking for a “leg up”.
What do you want Go from Stressed to Strong to accomplish in the next year?
I want to make it onto the bestseller lists, because that would signal to me that a large number of people are finding the book useful and are using it to improve their lives. I want to extend my reach and spread my message, enrolling more people into my consulting programs and mini-courses. And I’d like to make an appearance on a national morning show!
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TUESDAY, Aug. 29, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Many American women with uterine fibroids don’t know there’s a minimally invasive embolization technique that may be an alternative to a hysterectomy, a new poll finds.
“Misperceptions about uterine fibroids and the treatments available often lead women to undergo invasive and potentially unnecessary surgery for their fibroids, despite more than 20 years of clinical use supporting uterine fibroid embolization,” said Dr. James Spies.
Spies, a professor of radiology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is a former president of the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR). That group commissioned the online Harris Poll survey of almost 1,200 women.
Radiologists perform uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) to treat tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. These tumors are usually benign, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health.
Radiologists guide a catheter through an artery to the blood supply of a fibroid. Once at the fibroid’s blood supply, the radiologist releases small particles to block the blood vessels that nourish the fibroid, the researchers explained.
The treatment has a high success rate, SIR says. About nine out of 10 women who have uterine fibroid embolization have significant improvement. Many women report their symptoms disappear completely.
The study found that:
Dr. Janice Newsome is the associate division director of interventional radiology and image-guided medicine at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
She said, “It is remarkable that 62 percent of women are unaware of UFE and that one in five women [20 percent] believe the only treatment is hysterectomy. Uterine preservation should be an important goal of therapy for fibroids. Yet many women seem unaware of safe and effective treatment options apart from hysterectomy.”
Dr. Suresh Vedantham is president of the Society of Interventional Radiology. He’s also a professor of radiology and surgery at Washington University in St. Louis.
“Physicians need to ensure that women are presented every option for treatment so that patients can make the decision that is right for them,” Vedantham said.
“Uterine fibroid embolization is an example of an image-guided therapy that has improved the standard of care and quality of life for many women, allowing a minimally invasive treatment with a shorter recovery time, less pain and risk of complications than traditional surgeries for uterine fibroids,” he said.
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It’s hard to escape the overwhelming amount of “fitspo” messages surrounding us today. Whether it be on social media, on TV, in fashion and advertising, or even in our local neighborhoods. While the aspiration to live our healthiest lives and stay fit is certainly a noble one, the line between that goal and the pressure to do this for external purposes often gets blurred.
Thankfully there is a very powerful body-positivity movement disrupting mainstream messages giving people permission to love their bodies and celebrate who they are wherever they are on their personal health journey, and place emphasis on values that matter far above and beyond just physical appearances.
A fitness festival based out of London which is primarily aimed at women seeks to do just this, and its founders were intention about its purpose, according to an interview with Metro.co.uk. Chelsea Cox and Rachel Chatham are the creators of Be:FIT and have just completed a summer UK tour, providing free workshops, fitness classes, advice sessions with trainers, and information about healthy eating. They are already advertising for their next event in May 2018.
According to the World Health Organization, there are rising obesity rates across Europe, and going by current rates, health experts expect to see three-quarters of men and two-thirds of women overweight in 15 years. While they recommend governments look into regulatory standards in the food industry, fitness is a huge part of this equation. The impact of messages from fashion, advertising and media can play a major role in deterring people from knowing how to strive for their best, especially when given such narrow and unrealistic ideals to aspire toward.
Sport England commissioned a study a couple of years ago which found low self-esteem was a major factor in preventing especially women and girls from participating in a regular form of exercise. It is one of the reasons they launched their now-famous ‘This Girl Can’ campaign which has gone viral around the world for its inspiring and empowering videos.
Chelsea and Rachel of Be:FIT want to be part of changing the status quo and believe their core message is key to achieving this.
“With all the conflicting information out there, we wanted to create one safe, comfortable place where visitors could break down the barriers that had prevented them from focusing on their health and fitness previously,” Rachel told Metro’s Miranda Larbi.
She added that they want the festival to be about female empowerment, reflecting the shift toward this over the past couple of years. And although it is aimed at women, men are certainly allowed to join.
“At the time that Be:FIT launched, there was very little in the fitness industry specifically for women, and many health products and fitness classes seemed to be aimed more at the male market. That has changed dramatically in the past few years and we are now part of a really exciting movement in women’s fitness and female empowerment,” she said.
They aim to inspire women about health and fitness in a whole new way, that doesn’t play into the same old tired standards that have had a negative effect on women’s self-esteem over the years.
“From yoyo dieting and desperation to fit into a size 4, we have now entered a really exciting time where the female body is being celebrated in all shapes and sizes. Fitness has become focused much more around what your body can do rather than how it looks, and this is encouraging a really positive outlook that we are starting to see more and more in young people,” she said.
Rachel believes greater support for one another, including social media groups and events like the Be:FIT Festival are a great way to push back against harmful messages, and encourage greater body positivity.
“There is definitely still work to be done, and certainly more that the media can do to support and encourage positive body image – particularly for young women,” she said.
Mentorship and building community support is a great way to help young women navigate the social pressures that bombard them about their bodies from a young age, which can carry well into adulthood. The Be:FIT team understand this support key to instilling confidence and they want to lead by example with the festival.
“It’s also important to bring the focus away from how you look in a pair of leggings and talk much more about how good nutrition and exercise makes you feel internally. Anyone working in the fitness industry today has a responsibility to promote this message and help their clients to prioritize good health and physical benefits of exercise over a desire to change the way they look,” said Rachel.
In a blog post on the Be:FIT website titled “Changing Perceptions” where one of their team members shared her own personal journey feeling ostracized by the beauty standards she grew up witnessing until more recently when diverse media representations (such as curvy model Ashley Graham and Indian-American actress/writer/creator Mindy Kaling) started to become a regular feature, the organization says they are thrilled to be an active part of the changing tide in health and fitness.
“We are truly proud to be living in a world where there is increasingly, a larger and more diverse group of women being celebrated in the media. It’s amazing to see women of different ages, ethnicities, shapes and sizes celebrated for who they are and we feel that this is a huge step forward in females personal acceptance of their bodies,” they said.
To find out more about Be:FIT and their pop-up events, be sure to visit their website by clicking here.
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Kuhu Bhosale, a 20-year-old participant at the bodybuilding championship, working out at an Andheri gym. Pics/Rane Ashish
It’s a Thursday evening when 20-year-old fitness coach Kuhu Bhosale walks into an Andheri gym, wearing a black sweatshirt and jeans. At five feet, one inch, she cuts quite the petite figure. She heads to the changing room and reappears within minutes, this time in gym shorts and sports bra. But, she’s no longer the diminutive girl we just met. “I weigh 52 kg, but I lift 60 kg. Sometimes, even more. That surprises most men in the room,” she chuckles.
With rippling muscles, little boulders for shoulders and a derriere that could give JLo a run for her money, Bhosale is one of the 100 women competing at an upcoming bodybuilding competition organised by fitness expert Sheru Aangrish as part of the International Health Sports and Fitness Festival, from October 13 to 15 at Goregaon’s Bombay Exhibition Centre. Aangrish, who has rendered services to stalwarts like Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger, was the first to organise Sheru Classic, Asia’s first International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness’s bodybuilding show in 2011 in Mumbai.
“Bodybuilding is a sport that requires immense patience and perseverance. There are many who perceive it to be all about beefed-up bodies and consumption of steroids. I want to bust this myth,” he says. The Sheru Classic Championship may be in its fifth year, but it’s the first time that they will roll out the Amateur Olympia, India, a prestigious event organised by the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness event, where winners will receive the Amateur Olympia Pro Card which will allow them access to international bodybuilding festivals. The total prize money is worth ’50 lakh, which will be divided among the top three winners in each category.
Bhosale, however, is prepping for the Women Bikini Fitness, wherein contestants will work the two-piece bikini in any colour and pattern of their choice. Here, the assessment takes into consideration the tightness and tone of the skin. “The competitors should have very low body fat, and the physique should neither be excessively muscular nor excessively lean,” says Aangrish, adding that the face, hair and makeup should complement the look presented by the athlete.
As a model, Monica Lalwani used to weigh 52 kgs and now as a bodybuilder, her weight is 69 kg
Bhosale, however, is confident of making the cut. “It’s highly competitive, considering women around the world will be participating. But, I want to win,” she says. Formerly, a marketing manager at a fitness magazine, Bhosale quit her job eight months ago to pursue bodybuilding professionally. She now spends at least two hours in the gym every day. “I have tried gyms in my locality, but I find that the trainers at Bodyholic are the best, at least for me. Plus, even if I am strutting around in shorts or a sports bra, no one blinks an eye,” she adds.
Turns out, there are many women in the city who have signed up and are readying to set a tough challenge for Bhosale. Monica Lalwani, whose screen name is Monica Maryjane – you might remember her from Channel V show Roomies  – is an actress/model. Born in Mumbai, Lalwani studied at a military college in Nashik, and at 5’8 1/2″ was often the biggest girl in the room. “But, as a model, I had to always look thin. And, in order to make my round face look sculpted, I had to go on many dehydrating diets. After a point, it got to me,” she adds. In fact, at the pageant, trainers would often tell her to work on hiding her broad shoulders and biceps, to look slender. “I had to make a choice, either go with who I was or go for glamour.” Her choice is obvious. “I don’t want to look dainty,” she says.
Today, a fitness trainer at an MNC, Lalwani starts her day at 5 am, calling it a night at 10 pm. “I work out twice a day and I’m on a strict diet. That doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to eat good food,” she says. On a diet of high carbs and protein shakes, Lalwani says “she eats like a man”. This extends even to romantic evenings. “Earlier, I would only eat salads on dates. These days, I wolf down one-and-a-half chicken tandoori, and, if the guy gives me the stink eye, I’m done,” she laughs.
Sometimes, it’s the women who also need convincing, Jalandar born Navreet Josan argues. The 31-year-old, who will also be participating in the October contest, says getting attention for her body is common. She often has women coming up to her at cafés and malls asking how she manages to look so sculpted. “Women are apprehensive of bodybuilding because they don’t want to ‘look like men’. You can have a ripped body and still look beautiful,” says Josan, adding that while it’s easy to get a fit or toned body, a muscular look requires a far more intense workout and nutrition regime. In 2014, Josan ranked fourth in the National Physique committee’s Fort Lauderdale Cup, Florida, and has since won several laurels at international bodybuilding events.
“I remember, that was the first time I had to wear a bikini in public. I had to break the news to my parents gently,” she tells us over the phone from Delhi. Josan’s father is an agriculturist and mother, a homemaker. “Fortunately, they understood my passion. Now, they cheer for me at competitions,” she says. Her biggest stumbling block, however, was finding a coach. “Initially, I couldn’t find anybody. The male coaches refused because they felt it was more a man’s territory,” she says. Her tutoring came from an online source, where she learnt how to pose, how much body tan is needed and what sort of bikini to wear.
“It’s not just about the body, it’s about the confidence you exude and the way you present yourself in the couple of seconds on stage,” she says. Josan wants people to understand that bodybuilding is not all about ripped muscles. “If you decide to change any part of your body, you’re bodybuilding. You don’t have to compete to do bodybuilding. A lot of people do it as part of their training, in the gym, to build muscle.”
Her Instagram handle “lilrocket” – with over 54K followers – is full of flattering comments. While the scene on international competitions is healthy, yet competitive, it can get slightly ugly at the national level. “There’s not much money, and enough people to dissuade you,” she says. And, if that wasn’t enough, it’s doesn’t come cheap either.
Adele Preston, a 20-year-old commerce student from Mumbai University, will also participate in the bikini category.
“I’ve been an athlete all my life, but five years ago, I had to put an end to fitness practice after a road accident. I couldn’t exert myself,” she says. It was in 2015 that Preston picked up the dumbbell once again. These days, she trains six days a week, and has a personal trainer who ensures she doesn’t cheat on her diet. Her monthly expenditure on the sport is close to ‘20,000. “It’s an expensive sport. If it weren’t for supportive parents, I wouldn’t have been able to compete,” she says.
Bhosale agrees. Hailing from an affluent family — her father Nagesh Bhosale owns two production houses — help her sustain the workout. “My mother and brother don’t understand why I want to look muscular. My father, however, is supportive,” says Bhosale, who idolises American fitness model Paige Hathaway. “I want to look like her,” she says.
Sheru Aangrish, the organiser of the show, says he’s seeing more participation from women this year. “About 10 years ago, there wouldn’t be more than five. Now we have 150,” he says. Incidentally, he had tried organising the same show three years ago but had to back out because of lack of sponsors. Now, he has several on board
Amount Adele Preston spends on training every month
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