When it comes to looking and feeling great through the seasons of life, the closest thing to a one-size-fits-all solution may be the most obvious: exercise.
“When we think of healthcare, we often focus on doctor visits, preventive care, lab tests and immunizations. But there are other factors that are in our personal control, like improving our diets, reducing stress and adding fun to our lives,” says Jordan Horowitz, M.D., a gynecologist with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation and clinical professor at University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. “Exercise is one of these controllable factors, and it’s highly effective at improving health.”
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, regular exercise provides a great array of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, preventing diabetes, improving mood and cognitive function, and reducing mortality. For women, those benefits expand, thanks to their particular combination of hormones and health risks.
“Many of the health issues that women face can be improved substantially with consistent exercise. It’s one of the best preventive options available and should be encouraged in childhood and throughout life,” says Dr. Horowitz.
Of course, exercise takes a fair amount of effort, time and self-discipline. So why bother? Here are four ways exercise specifically benefits women, no matter what your age: