The term fitness is associated with several different activities and goals. It could be weight loss and toning, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, increasing muscular strength and endurance, or reducing body fat percentage. No matter what your goal may be, there are certain things about women's physiology that need to be considered when designing a fitness program.
This is one of the reasons why a female only gym like MPower Fitness in Chino, CA, has become more popular. Besides a healthy and positive environment, this fitness center has an all-female team of coaches and trainers who help women achieve their fitness goals.
Here are ten things about women’s fitness that are worth looking into. Whether you believe them or not, there’s always a way to work around predispositions. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done!
- Women should work out for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, it has been revealed, as women who work out long term will look and feel better. The news comes amid concerns that many women quit exercising after only a few weeks, leading to them gaining more weight. Women more quickly notice the benefits of exercise because they tend to be smaller and weigh less.
- It is more difficult for women to maintain an elevated heart rate during exercise. A woman's heart rate will increase more slowly than a man's during the same exertion levels; this means that to achieve the same heart rate as a man would, women have to exercise harder and longer.
- Women tend to have more expansive, shallower breathing passages than men, so they typically have a lower capacity for inhaling and exhaling air; this makes it harder for women to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream. Not enough oxygen leads to lower exercise intensity and a higher risk of overexertion/injury.
- Women need to eat more protein than men because they have less muscle. Women have less muscle mass from birth, but that doesn't mean they need more protein to build it. Studies suggest that women require the same daily protein as men - around 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight because our bodies have a unique capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. If there's not enough protein in the diet, our body will use other energy sources and extra protein for other purposes.
If you are pregnant, your daily protein needs will increase to account for the needs of your fetus. The daily protein intake that maximizes health benefits and minimizes complications like preeclampsia is 1.0 g/kg per day.
You need more protein than during pregnancy if you are breastfeeding your baby since you're producing more milk. Furthermore, if you're a vegan, your protein needs will be higher than average due to the lower digestibility of plant proteins - about 1.0-1.3 g/kg per day.
People who engage in regular exercises, like athletes and fitness enthusiasts, may require more protein than lean people who have a sedentary lifestyle because exercise increases our body's need for essential amino acids to build muscle tissue. The theoretical maximum amount of protein our body can utilize during one sitting is about 20 grams per meal - or 0.24 g/kg of ideal body weight per meal.
The best way to determine your daily protein needs is via nitrogen balance studies. Nitrogen balance studies are the most accurate way to estimate protein needs. They measure how much nitrogen (in grams) is taken in via dietary protein and excreted via urine, feces, hair, skin, etc. Nitrogen balance studies tell us how much extra protein our body has utilized for building muscle tissue or other essential processes like blood maintenance/build-up.
- Women need to drink more water because their bodies are carrying extra weight from pregnancy and childbirth. A woman should always keep track of her body weight gain during pregnancy and know the excess fluid she needs to maintain good health. The Mayo Clinic recommends an average intake of 10 eight-ounce glasses of water each day for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Women naturally carry about 5% less total body water than men, and this difference is even more significant during menstruation when women's bodies can lose an additional 5-10% of their fluid stores. This might seem reasonable, but it makes it harder for women to hydrate their bodies as efficiently as men.
- Women should avoid eating too many carbs or fried foods because of the increase in estrogen levels, leading to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2015 builds on a growing number of data suggesting that estrogen, sometimes known as the "female" hormone, is beneficial to women's heart health. The researchers looked at postmenopausal women who took estrogen to treat menopause. They observed a substantial reduction in coronary artery calcification, an indicator of early disease that can result in heart attack and stroke. It appears that estrogen has a cardioprotective effect. But this does not imply that all postmenopausal females should be given 'female' hormones; there are risks associated with estrogen supplementation, including an increased risk of blood clotting.
- Women should not skip breakfast - it helps regulate their metabolism all day long.
At MPower Fitness Coaching, we always advise our clients not to skip breakfast because it gets your metabolism going later in the day. It is important to eat breakfast within half an hour of waking up; breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day. Also, eat foods with a high-fiber content (fruit, vegetables, whole grains) along with foods that expand in the stomach (oatmeal, eggs).
- A woman's hormones change as she ages, so she needs different types of exercise as her body changes shape and size. At any age, here are some basic principles to follow to maintain or help build muscle mass and tone:
- For cardiovascular exercise, choose something that gets your heart rate up and that you enjoy. This could be activities such as running, stair climbing, or walking outside with your dog. If it's fun, you're more likely to stick with it.
- For strength training, choose at least one major muscle group to work with each time you exercise - the legs, chest, back, or abdomen, for example - and incorporate exercises using weights or bands.
- The key to resistance training is to increase the challenge progressively, so vary your routine and add some weights when you can.
- Don't forget to stretch and warm up before and cool down after every workout; this will help prevent injuries and keep your body flexible.
- Women tend to have more smooth muscle tissue than men. Soft muscle tissue helps with involuntary processes like digestion and blood flow, but the downside is that the muscles aren't responsive enough to create as much force and power as the muscles in men.
- For physiological reasons, it's harder for women to build up their anaerobic capacity through intense weightlifting or sprinting. Anaerobic capacity refers to the maximum amount of energy produced in a short amount of time without enough oxygen, which is critical for intense exercise such as sprinting, jumping, or throwing. Women's anaerobic capacity is lower than men's because the percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers is smaller, and their bodies don't release as much adrenaline during intense exercise.
How Can MPower Fitness Coaching Help You Stay Fit?
Women are tough and can break through barriers and predispositions once they set their hearts and minds. MPower Fitness Coaching will help create a customized exercise and nutrition program for you so you can make the most out of your diet and exercise routines.
Our female only gym is also a great place to stay motivated and determined. You won’t just have your fitness coach to cheer you on, but also a group of women who are going through the same challenges as you. We’re a small but happy family who is ready to give support and encouragement to any woman who needs a boost.