Foe #1: Premenstrual syndrome
Days before her menstrual cycle, a woman may go through premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. We know the symptoms well: Tender breasts, bloating, cramps, mood swings, headaches, low back pain and sometimes acne are all part of the condition.
Deficiency in vitamin B6, calcium, or magnesium in the foods you eat can increase your chances of getting PMS. “Risk factors as smoking, high stress levels, low fitness activity or being sedentary, plus a diet heavy with caffeine, alcohol, sugar and salt can also worsen symptoms,” says Cecille F. Rabuco, M.D., OB-GYN at the Medicard Lifestyle Center.
Solution: Easy does it
To reduce symptoms or alleviate pain through exercise, Dr. Rabuco recommends moderate impact activities like walking or light jogging on the treadmill to “regulate hormones and increase happy chemicals in the body [such as] endorphins.” On heavy flow days, “intense movements as jumping should be avoided [which] may lead to cramping and increased blood flow. It’s important to listen to your body, and do only what it can,” adds the OB-GYN.
Yoga may just do the trick on light to medium flow days when slower, or more controlled routines are better, claims Nixie Montoya-Yap of Surya Fitness and Yoga. She says, “Seated or lying yoga poses with gentle twisting actually help ease cramps.”
Foe #2: Obesity
Solution: Move more, lose more
Obesity is often a risk factor for serious health problems and leading causes of mortality, including heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. A surplus of fat can place too much stress on joints, which causes instability and stress fractures, as well as restrict flow in blood pathways which can eventually lead to serious vascular complications.
According to the American Council of Exercise, moderate activity such as brisk walking for 20 to 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is an excellent way to switch on the body’s fat-burning zone. Saret’s tip for women-on-the-go: “Stoke your metabolism so that it keeps firing, ergo, a moderate metabolic workout that you can do in under five minutes. The trick is to do as many reps as you can but moving fast. These are simple jumping jacks, squats, lunges and pushups [on your knees if building shoulder strength]. There are modifications for these routines, so women need not worry.”
Foe #3: Hypertension
Blood pressure is considered high when the systolic (top number) is greater than or equal to 140mmHg, and the diastolic (bottom number) is greater than 90mmHg. At least two such readings, taken on separate occasions, equal hypertension. “This is diagnosed as stage I hypertension, with stage II being 160mmHg/100mmHg,” explains Redd Legislador, M.D., general practitioner at the Medicard Lifestyle Center, Makati City.
While this condition is known to be more common in men, half of the population now includes women, especially those in the menopausal age of 45 to 55 years, when estrogen levels drop, according to an American Heart Association survey.
Solution: Keep it flowing
“It is important for hypertensive individuals to not only avoid smoking, alcohol and foods high in fat and salt, but to do low to moderate cardiorespiratory exercise,” advises Dr. Legislador, explaining that “obesity is often the biggest risk factor for hypertension because blood cannot circulate efficiently. The heart has to exert harder to pump more blood, and with that, blood pressure increases.”
Fitness First personal trainer Thed Pador concurs: “Cardio routines have been shown to be just as effective as high-intensity activity in reducing blood pressure. This is good news for the senior and obese populations.” For these individuals, though, he cautions, “Exercises should be limited to standing or seated positions to avoid dizziness and blood pressure increase. Also, hypertensive individuals shouldn’t be holding their breath when exercising to avoid triggering the aforementioned.” Examples of safe cardio routines include walking, jogging, stationary spinning or cycling, indoor rowing, and dancing routines like Zumba.
Where to go:
Stott Pilates at Options Studio