STUDY: Breast Size Can Affect How Women Exercise

A major new study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that breast size can affect how women exercise, The New York Times reports, and that includes whether they decide to exercise at all.

The researchers say it’s time to start including breast size and bra fit as a factor in conversations about what’s keeping people from being physically active, according to The New York Times. While this news likely won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has trouble finding a supportive sports bra, having research on this issue can make it easier for bra-makers to develop better solutions.

The researchers used three-dimensional scanning to precisely measure the volume of each participants’ breasts and categorized them as small, medium, large, or very large, according to The New York TimesThe New York Times says the researchers didn’t rely on bra sizes because those are “notoriously inconsistent.” The researchers found that the participants with very large breasts were significantly less physically active than those with smaller breasts. The participants with large breasts also did less vigorous activities than those with smaller breasts, according to the study, and the women with larger breasts felt their breast sizes affected how physically active they could be.

There are definitely some great options out there for sports bras larger than a D-cup or sports bras larger than a DD-cup. Runner’s World says there’s no “magic formula” for finding the perfect sports bra, but a good sports bra shouldn’t cause any back or breast pain, shouldn’t ride up your back, and the straps shouldn’t dig into your skin. The actual band of the sports bra “does most of the work,” says Runner’s World, so the band “should be snug but not painfully tight.”

If you’re still having breast discomfort even after finding a good bra, Dr. Coltman recommends swimming or water-based activities because the buoyant effect of the water typically decreases breast-related discomfort, says The New York Times.

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