All women know that when it comes to boobs and exercise, you must come prepared: Whether it be sports bras, support tanks, or wearing your actual bra under your sports bra. And your workout can quickly be ruined (or downright impossible) if your sports bra sucks or you forgot to pack one.
Diving deeper into this topic, a recent New York Times piece explored how breast size impacts women when it comes to exercise, based on a study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport .
The new study dove into the reasons why so many women remain sedentary, and focused on chest size as a possible cause. What probably comes as no shock to many women: the bigger the boobs, the less physical activity women get, especially “vigorous” exercise.
The researchers studied 355 women from Australia, between the ages of 18-75. Each woman had a three-dimensional scan of her breasts to precisely measure the size. Then she was categorized as small, medium, large, or very large.
Researchers found that as womens breast sizes grew, their participation in physical activity declined. Women with larger boobs believed that their breast size prevented them from exercising easily, even in low-impact activities (like walking or swimming). And women with very large breasts reported rarely jogging.
And for good reason.
“Female breast tissue is heavy and unsupported, containing little stabilizing, connective tissue. So, breasts move when women exercise, even if they wear a bra,” writes NYT reporter Gretchen Reynolds.
And that’s the root of the issue: Finding sturdy, supportive sports bras is every woman’s challenge. The researchers noted that some women with large boobs often need to wear two bras simultaneously to gain enough support for comfortable running and high-impact activities. (Check out our guide on how to solve your most common sports bra problems .)
Researchers did encourage women with larger boobs to go the water route for exercise. Swimming and other water-based activities like aqua aerobics can be ideal, Celeste Coltman, assistant professor at the University of Canberra in Australia, who led the study told NYT, because the buoyant forces of the water slow the downward movement of breasts.
And thankfully, the study’s female researchers created a free app to help active women assess their breast size and bra needs. Or check out a few of our favorite sports bras for bigger boobs:
But the study concluded that:
“Breast size should be acknowledged as a potential barrier to women participating in physical activity. Strategies to assist women with large and hypertrophic (very large) breasts participate in all types and intensities of physical activity are needed so women can enjoy the health benefits associated with an active lifestyle.”