For many of us, boob discomfort is a fact of life, especially when it comes to workouts. It's no wonder: research has shown that your breasts move every which way when you're exercising — not just up and down, but also side to side. This uncomfortable, painful motion has a big effect. A 2015 study found that, for 249 women surveyed, breast-related issues were the fourth biggest deterrent to working out (behind energy/motivation, time constraints, and health). They explained why, too: they couldn't find the right sports bra, experienced chest pain, or were embarrassed by their breasts jiggling when they worked out. Honest, relatable, and a little depressing.
A new study, from the University of Wollongong in Australia, went even more in-depth. Specifically, the researchers split 355 participants up into four groups based on one key variable: breast size. Then, each of the women, who ranged in age from 18 to 75, filled out a survey detailing their physical activity in the past week and whether they thought their breast size affected it.
The results were pretty striking. Not only did women with larger breasts exercise less and less vigorously than women with smaller breasts, but this also held true across age and body mass index (BMI), The New York Times reported. That is, the pattern stayed the same regardless of whether the woman was overweight or not; on average, women with larger breasts still exercised less independent of BMI, which suggested that it wasn't weight that was affecting their exercise, but breast size specifically.
This study is only the latest in a mounting pile of evidence telling us something that might seem obvious: breasts — and now, their size — play a big role in how and how much women work out. That only makes it more important to find well-fitting sports bras and activities that don't put more strain and pain on your chest. We have suggestions for comfy sports bras and low-impact workouts, and options like swimming are good, too. Your breast pain and sports bra issues are legitimate and have a powerful impact on your workout routine. Instead of brushing them off, do what you can to alleviate the pain and stay comfortable while you exercise.