Navigating Women’s Health in Exercise

In the dynamic world of fitness and health, understanding the nuanced needs of clients is paramount for effective training. A seminal study titled “Thermal Physiology is a (wo)man’s world!” by D Filingeri, H Blount, and J Ward shines a spotlight on the intricate interplay between female physiological stages—menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause—and thermoregulation during exercise. This groundbreaking research not only dispels myths but also equips fitness professionals with knowledge to tailor their coaching strategies.

Study Overview

The study explores how different stages in a woman’s life cycle, each marked by unique hormonal landscapes, affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature during physical activity. Contrary to prevalent beliefs, the findings reveal that intrauterine devices (IUDs)—a common form of contraception—have negligible effects on thermoregulation. This insight is critical, as it underscores the importance of considering hormonal variations and reproductive status when designing exercise programmes for women.


  1. Thermoregulation Across Life Stages: The study meticulously documents how menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause each present distinct challenges to thermoregulation during exercise. For instance, the hormonal fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle can affect core temperature and sweat response, potentially impacting exercise performance and comfort.
  2. Impact of IUDs: A significant revelation from the research is the minimal influence of IUDs on thermoregulatory responses during exercise. This finding is crucial for dispelling misconceptions and ensuring that women using IUDs are not unnecessarily restricted in their fitness pursuits.
  3. Guidance for Training Programmes: The insights into thermoregulation offer a foundation for developing more personalised and effective training programmes that accommodate the physiological nuances of female clients at different life stages.

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Practical Tips for Fitness Professionals

  1. Personalised Training Plans: Recognise the hormonal and physiological changes women experience and adjust training intensity, duration, and recovery periods accordingly. For example, during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, when core temperature may be higher, consider incorporating lower-intensity sessions or emphasising hydration.
  2. Education on Hydration: Educate clients on the importance of hydration, particularly during stages when they might be more susceptible to variations in body temperature, such as pregnancy.
  3. Mindful of Pregnancy: During pregnancy, adapt exercise routines to account for the increased metabolic rate and altered thermoregulation. Focus on activities that are less likely to cause overheating and ensure a cool, well-ventilated environment for workouts.
  4. Support During Menopause: For menopausal clients, who may experience hot flashes or other thermoregulatory challenges, offer flexible training schedules, recommend layering clothing for comfort, and consider the gym’s ambient temperature.
  5. No One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Acknowledge individual differences and encourage open communication with clients about their comfort and energy levels during exercise, adjusting programmes as needed.

Things to Be Aware Of

  • Safety First: Always prioritise client safety, especially during pregnancy and menopause, when women may be more prone to overheating or dehydration.
  • Continuous Education: Stay informed about the latest research in female physiology and exercise science to provide the best guidance possible.
  • Client Communication: Foster an environment where clients feel comfortable discussing their health and how their cycles affect their fitness routine.

Thermal Physiology is a (wo)man’s world!” offers invaluable insights for fitness professionals seeking to support women through the unique challenges presented by different life stages. By applying these findings, trainers can enhance their approach to women’s fitness, ensuring that exercise programmes are not only effective but also attuned to the complexities of female physiology.


Filingeri, D., Blount, H., & Ward, J. (2024). Thermal Physiology is a (wo)man’s world! The Journal of Physiology. Click here to review the full research article

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