The following article is a synthesis of current physiological research regarding women and physical activity with an emphasis on what that research means in regard to both performance and health. The first part is a discussion of the effects of heavy physical training on the menstrual cycle, with particular emphasis on the detrimental effects of hypoestrogenemia on bone. The second part of the paper is a discussion of the generally high prevalence of inactivity in American women and its relationship to the development of obesity, type II diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. The final section of the paper consists of a call for interdisciplinary and collaborative research by women investigators on issues of major importance to women.
Christine L. Wells, Ph.D., is Professor of Exercise Science and Physical Education, and Women’s Studies at Arizona State University. She is the author of Women, Sport and Performance: A Physiological Perspective published in 1991 (second edition) by Human Kinetics Publishers. She is an Alumni Fellow of the Pennsylvania State University. She received a Wonder Women Foundation Award in 1982, and the Individual Contributions to Women’s Sports Award from The Women’s Sports Foundation in 1983. Wells is an avid jogger, cyclist and downhill and cross-country skier.