11 Mar 2021

The health pressures on NZ's top sportswomen

From Nine To Noon, 9:35 am on 11 March 2021
Cropped image closeup of slim woman in sportswear running while doing workout outdoors

Photo: 123RF

A new survey has given a striking insight into the pressures that New Zealand's top female athletes are under that could compromise their health and performance.

More than 200 of the country's elite sportswomen were asked about aspects of their wellbeing - from training load and injuries, to contraceptive use and menstrual health.

It also looked how they were affected by appearance, with 73 per cent of athletes feeling they had to alter their physical appearance to conform to gender ideals.

Nearly half had suffered from iron deficiency, nearly a quarter had suffered stress fractures and a third reported their menstrual cycle was affected by how much they trained.

Kathryn discusses the findings with two members of High Performance Sport NZ's WHISPA group who conducted the survey: Professor Holly Thorpe, who was the report's sociocultural lead and Dr Sarah Beable, a sports and exercise medicine specialist.