Physical Activity and Women's Reproductive Health

Session Date: 
May 14, 2021

It is generally assumed that humans need physical activity to stay healthy, but health recommendations are rarely different for women and men. However, the effects of physical activity on female physiology and health are much more complex. Just like in men, activity is beneficial for many aspects of health, but physically active women also face important physiological trade-offs, or, in other words, quid pro quos.

In this talk, I will discuss beneficial aspects of exercise for women, especially in prevention of breast cancer, but I will also point to suppressive effects of activity on reproductive function. Physical activity influences levels of hormones that are crucial for female health – estrogens and progesterone. But how much and in what way these hormones are affected depends not only on the type and intensity of physical activity, but also on other factors, such as the quality of environment that women experienced during their own fetal development and childhood.