People have all sorts of reasons why they avoid working out on a consistent basis. It could be about keeping one’s hair intact, not feeling like they have enough time or motivation, and in some cases, it’s because of their breasts.
According to a recent study from the Journal of Adolescent Health, after surveying more than 2,000 British girls ages 11 to 18 about going through puberty and being active, they found that 45 percent said their breasts played a major part in their decision to skip out on sports and heavy exercise. This has been particularly prevalent amongst young girls ages 13 and 14, as well as teens who have larger breasts. Around 73 percent noted that they worried about their breasts, with their biggest anxiety being excessive bouncing while exercising. But researchers did point out that half of the girls studied hadn’t worn sports bras while those who did struggled with ill-fitting bras.
And while that’s sad to hear for young girls who should start cultivating an interest in being active, one that can keep them motivated as they get older, as SELF.com pointed out, many adult women with larger breasts often refrain from exercising consistently due to worries about support for their chests. And it’s about more than just finding a good sports bra. The makeup of a woman’s breast tissue can also make her chest heavier, making a lot of physical activity, when not properly supported, uncomfortable. And don’t even get us started on hormonal fluctuations, which cause breasts to be more sensitive in preparation for a menstrual cycle.
But Kendra McCamey, M.D. of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center told SELF that it’s all about finding the right support. The right straps, the right underwire, the right cup size. When you do, you shouldn’t walk away from a workout feeling sore–at least not in your chest area.
“If a women [sic] is not wearing a bra that fits, she can experience breast pain with exercise, particularly with higher impact exercise,” McCamey said. “If your sports bra is fit right, you shouldn’t experience any excessive breast movement with running, jumping, or any exercise.”
The University of Portsmouth put together five steps for women to consider when searching for the right sports bra, including making sure the band fits firmly, but comfortably around the chest and doesn’t slide as you move. The cups shouldn’t leave your breasts “bulging” or “gaping at the top or sides.” The underwire “should follow the natural crease of the breasts and not rest on any breast tissue.” The front of the bra should rest flat against the body, or else the cup size needs to be kicked up a notch. And straps shouldn’t dig into the shoulders.
When you can find a sports bra that fits that criterion (and also successfully test it by jumping around in the fitting room), you’ll have one less thing holding you back from being more active and living a healthier life.
But has the struggle to find the right bra support held you back from being more active at times?