The excuse 20% of women use to get out of exercise.

My boobs used to stop me from working out.

Yes, truly. A 10E cup + a serious lack of knowledge in regards to proper sports bras = completely hopeless me. Strapping those puppies down for a bounce-free run was an Operation, and generally required two crop tops, at the very minimum.

You know what happens when you wear two very tight crop tops? YOU CAN’T BREATHE. Which makes for less-than-ideal exercise conditions.

So instead of going for a workout, I would stay at home. It minimised bounce issues and meant that I didn’t stress about my ligaments getting torn apart with every step down the pavement.

Of course, this story has a happy ending. I went to a bra shop and got fitted for a proper running bra (Berlei is gooood and worth the investment) and I forgot that boobs had anything to do about exercise.

And then last week, I read a study that said nearly one in five women are put off exercise by their breasts. ONE IN FIVE! That’s nearly 20% of the female population (good maths, I know). And here I thought for all this time that it was just me.

But no. It’s an issue for all the ladies, not simply the big-busted ones. Those of all cup sizes are avoiding their daily workout because they are bothered by their boobies.

The survey was conducted by the University of Portsmouth’s Research Group in Breast Health, and published online this week. They found the top four reasons for women avoiding exercise, and they were as follows:

1. Lack of energy


2. Time constraints

3. Health reasons

4. Breasts

The women surveyed specified that they were unable to find a suitable sports bra, and that they also didn’t like the “excessive breast movement” that happens while exercising.

That makes sense. After all, boobs don’t just move up and down when we work out – they jiggle sideways and diagonally and in every which way possible. It can make for a seriously uncomfortable feeling, especially if you’re aware of the fact that this type of movement is damaging the Cooper’s liagment (you know, the one that holds up the boobs).

According to the Mirror, researcher Emma Burnett said:

“I expected the findings to show that breasts are a barrier but I was quite surprised at the percentage – it was higher than I thought…  One third of women in the study were not meeting physical activity guidelines, but improving breast health awareness may help to encourage participation for these women.”

So let’s make this a post that will help our fellow comrades with their boob-related woes. Share your tips, your tricks and your sports-bra-related loves and hates. Tell us where to find them for a reasonable price (sometimes impossible, but sometimes you can hit the jackpot at places such as Trade Secret) and tell us where to find them in a size that will suit all women – from A cups to the HH’s and beyond.

To kick us off, I had a chat to Tish Monahan from She Science, which is a sports-bra-dedicated retail and online store that opened up in Melbourne recently. The store is full of bra fitters with an extensive knowledge of health science and biomechanics. They use motion analysis software to analyse breast motion – pretty fancy – and every day they hear about the problems that women commonly experience with sports bras.


Here’s what Tish had to suggest:

1. You want a bra with some science behind it.

Go for a technical sports bra from a brand that is specialised in Sports Bra construction – such as Moving Comfort, Shock Absorber, Nike, 2XU, Berlei, Freya, Panache Sport, Brooks, Enell and 2XU.

2. Match your bras to the impact level of your activities.

Typically, women will feel best wearing a lower-impact bra for low-impact activity (such as yoga), and a higher-impact bra for medium-to-high-impact activity (such as jogging, running, cycling, playing tennis, etc). If you are active 3 or more times per week, it makes life much easier having 2 or more bras on the go.

Make sure your sports bra fits firmly around your back. And make sure you never try this pose in real life…

3. You get what you pay for.

You should expect to pay $50-80 for a low-impact bra, and $80-$110 for a high-impact bra. Brands that are testing product on a technical level, developing advanced materials and ultimately producing the leading bras will sit within this price range – because they need to.

4. Don’t pick based on brand and style – pick according to feel.

Go for what you find fits and feels best on you. However, remember that a sports bra is there to support your breasts during rigorous activity, so for most it can feel drastically different to your everyday bra – so don’t be tempted to try and make your Sports Bra fit and feel like an everyday bra.

5. Make sure your sports bra fits firmly around your back.


It should still feel comfortable, however, expect to feel a little more strapped in then with your everyday bra. Typically, Australian women wear their bra bands a size too big – and while this okay for your everyday bra, you won’t be able to get away with it in your sports bra for long. A band that’s too big won’t support the weight of the breasts and can lead to chafing.

6. You don’t necessarily need an underwire bra.

Research has suggested that you want a method of support that is a combination of compression and encapsulation (where breasts are separated into cups). However, breasts can be separated using a slightly moulded cup, or clever central panelling – underwire is not necessary for all technical bras.

7. It’s always best to be fitted instore rather than buy online.

This allows you to be measured and fitted properly. It will also give you the option to compare multiple products. What has worked for a friend or training buddy will not necessarily work for you – there are just too many size, shape and personal style preferences that differ between women.

8. Look for a maternity sports bra made by a brand that specialises in sports bras.

These brands are the companies that have put the necessary time and research into developing products specifically for activity. Look for a technical non-underwire sports bra with front-adjusting straps to allow for feeding.

Have your boobs ever prevented you from working out? What kind of sports bra do you have?