Editorial: Exercise and Sport: Their Influences on Women's Health Across the Lifespan

Editorial on the Research Topic Exercise and Sport: Their Influences on Women's Health Across the Lifespan This Research Topic of Frontiers in Physiology is dedicated to the memory of Professor Nigel Stepto, the Lead Guest Editor of this issue, who sadly passed away during its formation. Prof. Stepto was a passionate and recognized world leader in the field of Exercise Physiology with outstanding contributions, particularly in the area of women's reproductive health. Nigel's research passion was in understanding the mechanistic effects of exercise for health and therapy with a special interest in insulin resistance and polycystic ovary syndrome, the leading cause of anovulatory infertility in young women of reproductive age. He was the co-Deputy Director—Research Training at the Institute of Health and Sport (IHeS) at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, and held adjunct associate professorial roles at Monash University and the University of Melbourne. He was Chair of the Exercise and Sports Science Association (ESSA) Research Committee, Project Director of the Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS) and an active member of the Australian Physiological Society (AuPS). Alongside his influential research career and leadership roles, Nigel was a strong advocate for post-graduate and early career researchers. His collaborative nature and approach to research ensured those mentored by him were considered, included and valued members across his many research projects and initiatives. Nigel's impact and influence on the careers of early researchers will continue at Victoria University with both a Nigel Stepto Travel Award and Nigel Stepto Ph.D. Scholarship established in his honor. Nigel was great friend and colleague to many and is very much missed. Nigel is survived by his wife, Fiona and two children Matilda (14 years) and Harriet (11 years). Vale, Professor Nigel Stepto (12 September 1971−4 February 2020). Physiological responses and adaptations to exercise that influence both health and sports performance is a broad and well-documented area of research with acute and prolonged effects now widely understood. Resultantly, exercise is recognized as a potent therapy for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease in adults. Yet a significant research gender bias toward males remains with research elucidating differential reproductive and life-phase effects across clinical exercise, exercise and sports science in women, currently limited. This Research Topic was introduced to better explore physiological responses to exercise in women across the spectrum of health promotion to sports performance and the interplay of the reproductive lifespan on health and performance outcomes. This Research Topic consists of nine articles, including six original research articles, two narrative review articles, and one systematic review and meta-analysis. A broad range of themes are covered across female exercise physiology, including the role of hormonal regulation and inflammation on exercise performance; the beneficial role of exercise in anovulatory conditions including polycystic ovary syndrome and perspectives of exercise during pregnancy and its role in hypertensive disorders. Fluctuation in ovarian hormone levels induces physiological alterations that can produce differences in exercise performance during the menstrual cycle (Janse de Jonge, 2003). For example, progesterone has been shown to increase ventilation and body temperature at rest (Marsh and Jenkins, 2002), whereas oestradiol modulates vascular flow (Joyner et al., 2015). Mandrup et al. investigated how menopausal status and high intensity exercise training influence adipose tissue mass, glucose uptake and protein content. They demonstrate similar improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and decreases in subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue mass following 3 months' training in pre- and post-menopausal women. They also report of similar insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in abdominal, gluteal, and femoral adipose tissue depots in pre- vs. post-menopausal women, in contrast to earlier findings from the same trial showering skeletal muscle insulin resistance in post- compared to premenopausal women (Mandrup et al., 2018). High-repetition, low-load resistance training in group class settings has gained popularity for weight control, especially among women. One example of this type of training is BodyPump (Les Mills International), which is claimed to result in high energy expenditure. Rustaden et al. assessed energy expenditure during BodyPump compared with heavy load resistance exercise using indirect calorimetry in women who were overweight and found that both training modalities produced similar energy expenditure during and up to 140 min after the exercise session. Pereira et al. summarized the effects of the ovarian hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle on exercise-induced fatigability in a mini-review based on 46 studies comparing the follicular phase with the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. In total, 15 studies demonstrated a statistical difference between the menstrual cycle phases studied. However, the results were inconsistent with seven studies reporting less fatigability during the luteal phase and eight studies reporting less fatigability during the follicular phase. The inconsistences could be explained by differences in exercise mode, the limb used, type of contraction and the classification of the menstrual cycle phase. The authors concluded that further studies are needed to determine the effects of a specific menstrual cycle phase on exercise-induced fatigability. Exogenous hormones introduced through oral contraceptive use have also been found to influence exercise capacity (Lebrun et al., 2003) and change the metabolic, cardiovascular, and ventilatory responses to exercise (Charkoudian and Joyner, 2004; Isacco et al., 2012;...

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