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Women who have larger breasts tend to exercise less or less intensely, according to a new study that suggests having breast reduction surgery could be a game changer.
Australian researchers looking at exercise participation for women in this category called for more accessible, publicly funded breast reduction and other interventions.
The study used survey results from nearly 2,000 women who were in the involved in the Parkrun program, which promotes 5K running and walking events. Participants were in Australia, England and South Africa.
Women with bigger breasts reported that reducing their breast size would improve their exercise performance and frequency. And among the survey participants, the 56 women who had already undergone breast reduction surgery said they lead healthier and more active lifestyles.
“Women who had undergone breast reduction reported increased overall frequency, enjoyment and willingness to exercise in a group,” said lead author Dr. Claire Baxter, a clinical registrar in reconstructive surgery at the Flinders Medical Centre in Bedford Park, Australia.
“Our study found that breast size affects exercise habits and that breast reduction surgery changes their willingness to exercise," she said in a Flinders news release.
The study promotes the importance of regular exercise for weight and ischemic heart disease and also points out barriers for Australian Government subsidies for reduction mammoplasty.
“As well as the need for patients to have macromastia [enlarged breasts], experiencing pain in the neck of shoulder region, there are a number of state-based requirements for breast reduction to be performed,” said study co-author Dr. Nicola Dean, an associate professor at Flinders University.
“For example, there are body mass index [BMI] restrictions in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania which can lead to wait times of 12 months or more,” Dean said in the release. “In the U.K., breast reduction surgery via the National Health Service varies across locations, resulting in a 'postcode lottery' as breast reduction is considered a lower priority procedure.”
The study considered comparisons between 5K competition times and bra size. The BREAST-Q study also looked at cup size satisfaction levels, which showed more self-satisfaction with AA, A, B and C cup sizes than DD, E, F, G and H or greater.
Life satisfaction and happiness were also significantly related to bra size, with cup sizes greater than E reporting lower mean satisfaction.
“The benefits of breast reduction surgery need more awareness and academic support,” Baxter said.
Study findings were published in the September issue of the journal JPRAS Open.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on overcoming barriers to physical activity.
SOURCE: Flinders University, news release, Aug. 17, 2023
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