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MagazineApril 2009 (Vol. 20 Issue 1)Exercise

Exercise is good for us-up to a point

Exercise is good for us-up to a point. The vast majority of women who exercise excessively, usually because they're athletes or sportswomen, suffer menstrual dysfunction and bone problems, a new study has found.

It's been known for some time that women who train hard suffer from a syndrome known as 'female athletic triad'-menstrual dysfunction, low bone mass and a deficiency in energy-but a new report suggests that it may be a far more extensive problem than was first thought. Amenorrhoea, or the lack of a menstrual period, is seen in around 2 per cent of the general population, but in 44 per cent of female athletes. Other menstrual distur-bances occur in 80 per cent of women who train hard.

Women who are most at risk are those in 'lightweight' sports such as distance running, gymnastics and rowing, and whose training regime may involve running up to 50 miles a week (BMJ, 2007; 334: 164-5).

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