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Breast size and exercise: are your breasts a barrier?

If just the idea of a vigorous session of lunge-jumps makes you protectively clutch your breasts in pain, you aren’t alone. Nearly one in five women feel that the size of their breasts is an obstacle for exercise.

Research conducted by the University of Portsmouth in 2014 revealed that 17% of surveyed women said their breasts discouraged them from participating in physical activity. Breasts were ranked the fourth highest barrier to exercise after “lack of energy, time constraints and health reasons”.

Researchers found that breast size ranked above other obvious barriers, such as the cost of exercise or access to facilities.

Many of Dr Sharp’s breast reduction patients have experienced chronic skin irritations, chaffing and sometimes infections or bleeding of the skin under the breasts due to excessive breast size, with these problems often being exacerbated by exercise. Large breasts can also cause chronic back and shoulder pain, compounding the discomfort involved with exercising. But it is because of these factors why exercise is so important for large-breasted women – a fact that frustrates many of our patients, who want to exercise to help build up core strength and posture, but are held back by the limitations that breast size imposes on their activity.

Selecting the right sports bra can reduce the impact of exercise on breasts and surrounding tissues, but for some women, breast reduction surgery is the only way to reduce the strain that their breasts place on their bodies. Breast reduction surgery can also provide a sense of weight literally being ‘lifted’ off the chest, so that breathing feels easier and lighter when exercising.

While patients are encouraged to undertake gentle activities during the first 6 weeks post operatively, after this they can begin to ease into a more normal workout regime. These lifestyle improvements often have side benefits, such as overall weight loss, as the cycle of exercise, discomfort, inactivity and weight gain is broken.

Breast reduction surgery is a major procedure and involves a lengthy recovery period and significant breast scars, which heal over time but will always visible. As with all surgery, it also carries risks and complications. However plastic surgeons often consider it to be one of the most satisfying procedures to perform, as the lifestyle improvements are almost instantaneous and can transform the way a woman lives, exercises and perceives her body shape.

Dr Sharp breast reduction before and after

Above: before and 3 months after breast reduction surgery with Dr Sharp.


The above information is general in nature and does not constitute medical advice. All surgery carries benefits and risks, and we recommend visiting the specific page related to the procedure you are interested in to learn more. 

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before and after breast augmentation surgery with Dr Sharp