To mark International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is urging Australian women to place higher priority on their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Too often women put their own needs on hold as they juggle family responsibilities - including caring for children and elderly parents - work responsibilities and social commitments. A recent health report has found that less than half of women aged 18–64 exercised at the recommended level of at least 150 minutes over five or more sessions each week. Regular physical activity is an important contributor to good health; it promotes healthy weight maintenance, reduces the risk of chronic disease and improves mental function and general feelings of wellbeing.
Cath Willis, chair of the APA Women’s, Men’s and Pelvic Health group, says that physical activity is an incredibly powerful tool for optimizing whole body health in the long term and should be seen as an investment into women’s future health and wellbeing.
“Exercise is a critical component of disease prevention, but chronic conditions such as being overweight or obese, incontinence or leakage, endometriosis, low back pain and mental health issues may be a barrier.”
“A well-trained women’s health physiotherapist can help women manage these concerns and barriers to exercise and provide guidance on the right type of exercise for individual circumstances.”
Australian women are more likely than men to suffer from depression, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, arthritis and dementia, all of which have been linked to sedentary behaviors. With increasing age, women are also more likely to experience multiple chronic conditions simultaneously; 87 per cent of women over 65 currently live with at least one chronic disease.
Ms. Willis said that while physiotherapy can play a critical role in treating, motivating and giving confidence to women to be more active through various forms of sport and exercise, many women were simply not aware how it could help with their concerns.
“Physiotherapy helps keep women moving when they are in pain or lack confidence in their bodies, and this has enormous flow-on effects to their quality of life, both physical and emotional. I want women to know that urinary incontinence in particular should not be seen as normal, and that physio can make a big difference to how you feel and therefore how active you can be.”