Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, well this is a stated fact and almost applies in every walk of life – so why do we leave health behind? Running is an easy feat and most talked about the way of healthy living and is known for its cardiovascular benefits as well. You can run in various forms and get fit; this could be sprinting in a marathon, jogging in a park or just taking running a sport in general. But everything that you do has an impact on the body. Have you ever thought what impact would running have on the female runner’s body?
It doesn’t matter what type of a female runner you are – seasoned, beginner or just someone who does it for fun whenever time permits; it is important to know how running will impact your body and is it even helping you accomplish your goals? To feel happy in the head after completing your run you need to feel happy from within and this can only happen when you understand your entire body.
Table of Content
- 6 Impact of Running on Female Runner’s Body
- Questions on Running that Baffle a Women’s Mind
Impact of Running on Female Runner’s Body
So, let’s understand the 6 most important things that running impacts a woman’s body -
1. Menstrual Irregularities for Runners
The most common cause of this is the low body fat percentage in female runner’s body. A woman running hard and exercising rigorously causes irregular or no menstrual cycle which in turn reduces the Estrogen levels in the body. This is not a good sign as it will increase the risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis because missing your period means a decrease in bone mineral density. Estrogen helps in the calcium absorption in the bones and its presence in the female body is very important. When you exercise intensely it causes the hormones which control the menstruation cycle to decrease.
Stress fractures are common when the bones are weak and you’ve lost a lot of Estrogen from the body. This can be controlled by consuming a decent quantity of Vitamin D and calcium along with strength training. There are some oral contraceptives too which provide Estrogen but do get them prescribed from a doctor before consumption.
2. Female Metabolism: An Advantage for Distance Running
Running impacts your metabolism too! Carbohydrate intake is necessary and women rely more on fat intake for the female body parts to function properly. If you want to run at the same pace it is necessary to have a good and adequate carbohydrate consumption in the body. If you are doing a long endurance activity, the carbs stored in your body will work in your favour.
3. Pregnancy and Running
Mostly for females running in the first two trimesters of your pregnancy is completely healthy but is always better to consult your gynaecologist before taking a decision on this. Many women complain of early pregnancy issues of heartburn, nausea, leg cramps, insomnia etc. but the ones who are active and run have lesser of these!
It is a known fact that exercising during pregnancy is important and must be done from the very beginning. If you exercise during pregnancy you will reduce the risk of health ailments such as obstetrical complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
If you are going through heavy bleeding in your second and third trimester, have ruptured membranes or have a substantial lung or heart disease and some other medical condition, you may not want to run and should choose a different type of exercise to keep healthy.
4. Body Temperature
In the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle the body temperature often shoots up in response to the surge in progesterone (This is a part of the brain hypothalamus which controls the body temperature). As your body is already warm it gets very difficult to run in this phase and you sweat more. You should avoid running in the summers more as the climate is already hot and your body is also warm.
This is the biggest differentiator between men and women while running! This is a very strong hormone that impacts a woman’s body. Your metabolism, functioning of the lungs, bone health, glycogen storage and a lot of other body functions depend upon this hormone. Estrogen is high in the body just before ovulation and during the end of the follicular phase in your menstrual cycle. This hormone is released even during the luteal phase in a woman’s body. So, these are the good times when you should train hard and workout more for races and distance running.
If you experience heavy bleeding during your periods, it may cause reduction in your bloods haemoglobin concentration. If this happens the oxygen in your blood reduces. The main reason of this happening is losing iron from the body and iron is an important aspect of haemoglobin.
You can build or increase iron in the body by taking iron rich supplements or eating iron rich foods. Anaemia is very common in female runners. It is caused due to low iron levels in the blood due to the excessive physical activity. The main reason of this happening is also excessive bleeding during menstruation.
Questions on Running that Baffle a Woman’s Mind - FAQ's
Now that you know how running impacts a female runner’s body, it's time to answer the questions that ponder a woman’s mind.
Is running bad for a woman’s body? or what is a female runner’s physique? These are some of the things which do come in a female runner’s mind often! So, here are some of the common questions that come in every woman’s mind at the start, during or after completion of her run! Let’s look into them and understand them better:
1. What are the Benefits of Running for Women?
Here are some reasons why women should start running right away (These can be termed as long-term effects on the body as well) -
- Get rid of those thunder thighs: Running will help your tone your butt and legs and as this activity helps in losing excessive fat and weight.
- Helps in getting a healthy mind: A healthy mind is a healthy body. When you run regularly your mood is happy resulting in release of endorphins.
- Helps you in sleeping well: If you get a good sleep you exercise well the next day. When you run regularly and extensively it helps in your sleeping faster at night and more peacefully.
- Helps in Bone Building: Some researchers say that sprinting or high jumps generates a force which helps in bone building. Young and healthy adults should get into the habit of running so that their bones get help in adding mass
- Don’t let ‘that time of the month’ get on you: Cramps and mood swings are a part of us every month! Avoiding them by easy runs which are great mood lifters as they release endorphins is an amazing idea.
- Join a Race: With so many options available for women to train and run for a marathon it is a great way to start training for them. Do you half marathon to begin with and then move forward when your body gets used to it. You can look into Pinkathon in India which is an initiative by Milind Soman in for women from all walks of life!
- Avoid the Gym & Save your Money: Yes! Save the money and get yourself your favourite shoes or bags which you have been eyeing for so many months! Infact if you notice a female runner’s body will be less stiff than a female gym body. So along with saving money, you would save your body from turning stiff! Stay fit without spending any money and naturally by just running for a good amount of time regularly!
- No more Hangover: Hangover, what is that? Yes, that one extra cocktail from peer pressure or that one extra shot just for the road always does the damage when you wake up the next day. But, not if you are going for a run! Running is a cardio activity which increases the flow of the blood in the body and not to forget it releases the happiness hormone endorphin.
- Love and Get Loved: Running regularly increases your level of sexual intimacy and helps you reach orgasm sooner and regularly. Running makes you fit and you and your partner will fall in love with your sexy body as running does increase your body shape!
2. What are the Things Female Runners Should Know About their Private Parts?
Running Can Increase Your Risk of Yeast Infections
Crotch sweat can be painful and for runners just about a little more. It happens when you work out intensely and your thighs rub against each other causing friction! It is of utmost importance to dry off the sweat of any other discharge as quickly as you can to avoid the vaginal yeast to grow and cause an infection. The yeast infection multiplies fast and causes itchiness, infections and a lot of discomfort. This can be avoided by wearing sweat absorbent garments anti-bacterial garments or Dri-FIT clothing. Avoid cotton as it tends to soak in the sweat and keep the cloth damp. Always take a shower after completing your run or workout!
Chafing Happens Below the Waistband
Thigh and nipple chafing is common and just in case if you have experienced vulvar chafing there isn’t anything to be shy off! Before starting your run, you can apply some anti chafing balms to avoid irritation. You can follow this after completing your run as well. An ointment called A+D Original is very safe to be applied in the affected area (externally only). You can also wear comfortable snug bottoms to avoid friction in that area.
Breasts (of Any Size) Can Throw Off Form
The size doesn’t matter! It is necessary for you to realise that when you are running and bouncing so are your breasts! It’s not just about the magnitude it is also about the frequency. When you run for hours every week your breasts are bouncing almost 10,000 times which could hurt their form and can get injured. There could be a damage in the soft tissue of your breasts if you don’t run properly! It’s always advised to wear a good sports bra or a high support bra which has multiple hooks, is padded and has moulded cups. It’s important to support them when you run.
3. How Body Composition Impacts Running?
Skeletal Muscle Mass does have a huge influence on the race time as per a study but the muscle mass isn’t related to any specific training type. In fact, the results of the study were very different and stated that body fat percentage had the most significant impact on race results. For marathoners are runners skeletal mass wasn’t important for getting a positive performance but various body fat percentage along with specific training programs were directly related to both volume capability and speed.
4. Does Running Cause Muscle Loss?
For any runner or marathoner, the ideal body is lean, lanky and long! So, a lot of muscles aren’t present in a person who is a runner and stays fit by doing this activity. However, it is not true that you lose muscles when you start running. You can keep all your muscles in place by following good nutrition and proper training methods. Maintaining a protein balance is necessary to keep the muscles intact while you train as your muscles are built of proteins. For an ideal female runner’s body you should also know what to eat before a run. As you eat, protein rich foods it is broken down and sent to your blood stream helping it make new muscles and keeping the existing ones intact.
5. What is the Difference between Endurance Running vs. Sprinting?
There is not much difference between the two when it comes to training and we recommend that you just do both! Be variable and that is key to fitness when you run. If you are running 5 to 6 times in a week you need slow and long runs and you also allow your body to recover. But when you sprint you raise all your metabolic and intestinal levels. When you run hard you are using all the energy which is present in your body. Sprinting should be done with a good technique or else you could get hurt. But if you are sprinting just for half a week or on alternate days don’t do anything on the off days and allow your body to recover. You need to have a mix of both endurance running and sprinting. If all you do is run slow and easy then you are not getting completely fit and are limiting the benefits from the hard work which you are putting in.
6. How Pregnancy Changes a Female Runner’s Body?
A female runner’s body before and after pregnancy undergoes humongous change! A recent study states that both pregnant and new mother runners experienced several biomechanical changes including a forward-tilting pelvis. This can cause lower back, hip and leg pain as the female runner’s body needs to overcompensate and get to a normal state. As pregnancy strains the abdomen and its connecting tissues it is very important for the runners to take care of this and their muscles as well. This needs to be done in the pre-and post-pregnancy stages.
7. How Running a Marathon Impacts the Female Runner's Body?
When you train for getting past that finishing line, here are the things that change in your body:
- Due to fluid losses, your body will shrink. Don’t worry! This may sound scary but you will be up and running again to your normal height within 24 hours when your fluid levels are back to normal
- Your hearing will get sharper. Yes, that’s right. When you train for a marathon the blood circulation to your ear is higher and as your intake a lot of nutrients your hearing gets better
- You will burn calories which is great! This doesn’t mean that you will lose weight and the results will be immediate but you will feel fitter and lighter and much healthier
- There could be some damage to the blood vessels. As your feet are always at work when you run the marathon, there is a reduction in the haemoglobin or oxygen in the blood. Everyone who is training for a marathon should iron rich foods like meat and green leafy vegetables to return levels to normal and prevent the risk of anaemia.
Running is a great as it combines a lot of efforts into many physical activities all at once and you see a lot of positive effects on running on the body when you do this activity regularly. Running not only increases endurance but also builds a lot of muscles which help in maintaining the optimal body fat composition, the overall cardio logical health of the body, makes your heart stronger and just makes you mentally happy which is very important in today’s times.
If you combine this activity with weight training or other physical activities, this turns out to be a perfect balance of mental and physical fitness in a woman and there will be no negative effects of running on the body.
So, when are you getting fitter in a way that will never let you down? Get your running shoes and plug those earphones with your favourite playlist and make sure you get some time out of your day just for yourself!