Friday, March 8th is International Women’s Day! That means a lot of things to a lot of people. I think about it primarily as a day to celebrate women’s empowerment and to recognize the work that still has to be done in that regard.
You read that paragraph right.
I grew up in a matriarchy. Mom was in charge and my older sister was the oldest of the 5 of us kids. I was sent to the store to buy, well, whatever needed to get bought, without worrying much about it. As a performer many of my favorite directors were women. As an employee many of my favorite bosses.
I find that as men and women we have way more things in common than differences. Like men, some women are wonderful. Some are jerks. That, BTW, crosses almost all race, gender, creed, religion and sexual preference lines. So I just try to experience folks “one at a time”, without going in with a preconceived notion. I don’t always succeed. But I try like hell.
Now what was I talking about…..
Oh yeah! Women and wellness.
Ladies, you don’t tend to prioritize taking care of yourself. You tend to be caregivers, not care “takers”, if you know what I mean. According to numerous studies, supposed female gender “responsibilities” such as child care and housework can lead to decreased participation in physical activity. Female gender roles may also make it difficult for women to make their own health a priority. Even women living with a chronic illness have difficulty taking care of their own health and self-care needs because of the demands and needs of others. Other reasons include;
- Lack of time / parenting demands – Like I said above, many women juggle child-rearing, household duties and paid work, and don’t find time for themselves.
- Lack of motivation – some women say they don’t feel motivated without a training partner. Others think that, to be useful, exercise must be painful, sweaty and grueling.This is some, not all. I’ve watched women , in the gym and on a run, grind with the best of them.
- Lack of energy – fatigue is a by-product of a busy lifestyle. Mothers are often tired..
- Health problems – older women are more likely to have a chronic health condition (for example, arthritis) that limits their participation in some forms of exercise.
- Lack of money – women on low incomes are less likely to exercise regularly.
- Gender stereotyping – Women can feel guilty taking time for themselves. Also, they can feel uncomfortable in a health club setting.
However my friends, regular physical activity is important , especially to women. Benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle include;
Weight management- In one 20 year study of 3,500 men and women conducted by researchers at Northwestern University, all participants gained weight as they aged, but those who exercised gained substantially less weight. Women, especially, benefitted, gaining 13 pounds less, on average, than inactive women.
Sleep- A national poll of 1500 adults nationwide, conducted in 2005, discovered that women have more difficulty falling and staying asleep compared to men and experience more daytime sleepiness. This tendency can grow even more disruptive due to new motherhood, monthly hormonal changes and perimenopausal symptoms like night sweats. Exercise has an excellent track record of improving sleep. In one study of 2600 participants, published in the Journal of Mental Health and Physical Activity, participants who incorporated 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity into their week reported a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality. They said they also felt less sleepy during the day.
Decreases your risk of osteoporosis – Women and men tend to lose bone density as they get older. Fitness, especially load-bearing exercise such as resistance training, running and jumping rope are important for maintaining bone health.
Prevents muscle loss.– As we get older, not only do our bodies build muscle less efficiently, but the muscle we already have breaks down more quickly, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Maintaining muscle helps our body burn calories more effectively while engaged in cardiovascular exercise. And some guys definitely like women with muscle.
Reduces stress, depression and anxiety.– According to the Mayo Clinic, working out can definitely help you relax and make you feel better, keeping anxiety and depression from coming back.” How? When you exercise, neurotransmitters and endorphins that ease depression are released. Plus, you raise your body temperature, which has been shown to calm nerves. Even after menopause, when estrogen levels have permanently diminished, exercise can improve mood. One study of 60 women experiencing postmenopausal anxiety and depression found that the group of participants who exercised showed an 18 to 22 percent improvement in symptoms, while those who did not exercise showed no improvement
Improves your skin.– Studies have shown that exercise improves acne by controlling the production of acne-inducing testosterone hormones like DHEA and DHT. Plus, sweating can unclog pores and help clear up your breakouts—ultimately detoxifying the skin of oils and dirt.
Improves your sex life.
The Harvard School of Public Health found that just 20 minutes of regular exercise a day can improve sexual response in women. Not only does working out leave you feeling energized, but it can also make you feel more desirable. “Since exercise can improve health, vitality, appearance and self-esteem, it does indeed tend to increase interest in—and capacity for—sexual activity,” says David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center.
Ladies, what else do you need?
An engraved invitation?
Basically, what I’m saying is that while you’re taking care of the rest of the world, find some time to take care of yourself. Cause we worry about you.
It may not seem like it. But we do.
Oh, and Happy International Women’s Day!