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The Influence of the Breast on Physical Activity Participation in Females

Section:  Original Research

Authors: Emma Burnett, Jenny White, and Joanna Scurr

Affiliations: The authors are with the Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

Acceptance Date: February 9, 2014

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2013-0236

Background: The importance of physical activity is well known1. However, previous research suggests that breast movement during exercise can be painful, embarrassing and anecdotally deter exercise participation2,3. Therefore, this research investigates whether the breast influences physical activity participation. Methods: Female respondents (n=249) completed a breast health and physical activity survey assessing; bras and bra fit, physical activity, breast pain, comments and improvements, breast history and demographics. Results: Results found that the breast was a barrier to physical activity participation for 17% of women. ‘I can’t find the right sports bra’ and ‘I am embarrassed by excessive breast movement’ were the most influential breast related barriers to activity. Breast pain increased with vigorous activity and poor breast support. Breast health knowledge increased the use of a sports bra and levels of physical activity. Conclusions: The breast was the fourth greatest barrier to physical activity, behind energy/motivation (1st), time constraints (2nd), and health (3rd), despite its omission from previous physical activity literature. As 33 % of women were not meeting physical activity guidelines, increasing breast health knowledge may reduce barriers to physical activity.

Key Words: Barrier, Breast pain, Breast Mass, Sports bra, Education

Authors: Emma Burnett

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