Your fitness problems solved

Don’t let the prospect of a red face, a bit of sweat and bouncy boobs put you off exercising regularly. We’ve quizzed the doctors about how to solve some common exercise problems.

Fitness excuses


Problem: I experience light bladder leakage

“Light bladder leakage is more common than you might think,” says physiotherapist Jane Le Fevre. It’s caused by a weakness in the pelvic floor muscles, which allows the urethra to open and that’s when urine leaks occur. “This tends to happen not only when you’ve been doing a really hard workout, but also if you’re overweight, breastfeeding or have recently given birth,” says Le Fevre.

Solved: Regardless of whether you have a problem with light bladder leakage or not, doing pelvic floor exercises regularly is important. “Strengthen your pelvic floor with exercises,” says Le Fevre. To do them, contract the muscles in your pelvic floor as if you’re trying to stop urinating. Hold for up to 10 seconds, release, then repeat 10 times. “Light leakage can be fixed – you just need to work on it. If the problem is severe, you could wear a liner until it’s under control,” she says.


Problem: I get red and itchy all over

Getting a little itchy and blotchy when you work out could be caused by a couple of things. “The itchy sensation is often due to a change in the blood flow in your muscles. It could also be that the products you use on your skin are reacting to the heat and sweat your body is producing when you exercise,” says Dr Emily Farrell, from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Solved: “Itchiness tends to be worse when you’re new to exercise or have just increased your intensity. So once you get used to the exercise, the itchiness subsides,” says Dr Farrell. To reduce irritation, she also recommends minimising products, such as moisturisers and make-up, while you’re working out.


Problem: I get really sore breasts

Sore breasts while you’re working out can happen for a few reasons. “It could be because of a poorly fitted bra, or because it’s leading up to your period, when your breasts are more tender. It could also be because of the size of your breasts. Large breasts tend to bounce around more,” says Professor Susan Davis, Chair of Women’s Health at Monash University, and co-founder of the Jean Hailes Foundation.

Solved: “A supportive and properly fitted sports bra should make exercising comfortable, no matter what size you are,” says Professor Davis. So your first stop should be to a professional bra fitter – most major department stores have them. Besides the comfort factor, there’s the future to think about. “Your breasts are held up by ligaments. Without good support, those ligaments are strained over time, which results in stretching breasts downwards,” she says.


Problem: My face goes red

“We go red when we exercise because the blood vessels dilate to allow more oxygenated blood to be pumped through the body,” says Dr Farrell.

Solved: Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do to stop going red. To deal with it, Dr Farrell suggests placing a cool towel on your neck and having a warm shower instead of a hot one after working out.


Problem: I get sneezy

No, you’re not allergic to exercise! “Some people have allergies to things outdoors like pollen,” says Dr Farrell. As a result they may experience a runny nose, itchy eyes and lots of sneezing.

Solved: To reduce the chance of setting off allergies, Dr Farrell suggests changing your exercise route to avoid certain areas or exercising indoors. Some medications can help, too, so if the issue is really troubling you, see your doctor.


Problem: I get very bad BO

Dr Farrell says BO is very common. “Sweating and body odour is normal. You need to sweat – it’s your body regulating its temperature and cooling down. The smell comes from the sweat interacting with your skin’s natural bacteria,” she says.

Solved: The best way to deal with it is to wear breathable clothing. “Sports fabrics or natural fibres are ideal,” she says. But if you find loose clothing doesn’t help, see your GP.