Women often notice dramatic changes to their breasts as they go through life. These can be due to many different factors, including pregnancy, menopause or fluctuations in weight. Regular exercise can help you stay in shape, but some changes to your breasts are to be expected as you age.
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Breasts are primarily made of fat tissue, so there are no exercises that can truly firm and lift your breasts. However, you can do exercises to work out the surrounding regions, like your pectoral muscles.
Read more: 3 At-Home Chest Exercises Women Can Benefit From
Breast Ptosis and Exercise
According to the Cleveland Clinic, breast tissue is primarily made up of fat, along with lobules and ducts that help promote milk production. As you go through puberty, pregnancy or undergo other changes like menopause, your breast shape usually changes.
According to a September 2016 study in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open Journal, loss of breast firmness and fullness, which is sometimes referred to as "saggy breasts" but formally known as breast ptosis, occurs naturally as people get older. It's most likely to happen to people who have large amounts of breast tissue. However, there are also other contributing factors, including body mass index (BMI) and the number of pregnancies you've had.
Since your breasts are primarily made of fat tissue, there are no exercises that can reverse breast ptosis and make your breasts firm and lifted. Surgical interventions, like breast lifts, are generally the only way to tighten and lift breast tissue.
Exercise does have the potential to affect the size and shape of your breasts, though. Certain exercises can help work out your chest muscles that surround your breasts. Other exercises may simply affect your body fat percentage, which in turn affects your breasts.
Read more: The Results of Exercise on the Female Breast
Weight Loss and Your Breasts
Larger breasts are typically more likely to experience breast ptosis compared to smaller ones. If you've recently gained weight, you might find that your breasts are larger but have simultaneously become less perky than they used to be.
Losing that extra weight may be able to help your breasts become firmer and more lifted by reducing your breast size. However, whether or not this strategy will work for you will really depend on the size your breasts were prior to gaining weight and what size they are now.
If you need to lose a lot of weight in order to achieve a healthy weight, you may still want to consider surgical intervention for your breasts. According to a February 2017 study in the Annals of Plastic Surgery, substantial weight loss can lead to stretched ligaments and less supportive fibrous tissue, which exacerbates breast ptosis.
Read more: Can Exercise Reduce Breast Size?
The fat in your breast tissue can be lost through regular weight loss and exercise. Do keep in mind that this won't automatically shrink your breasts, though. Weight loss will just help you lose fat and may eventually reduce your breast size.
As long as you're incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine and operating at a calorie deficit, you should be able to lose weight. Many exercises support weight loss, including various types of yoga, swimming, hiking or weight lifting. You can even start with something simple, like walking or cycling to work.
Chest Exercises and Toned Breasts
Some women may want to tone and lift their breasts without losing a cup size. In these cases, you'll still want to consider exercising. However, you'll want to make sure you incorporate specific chest exercises into your daily routine.
There's no guarantee that chest exercises can help tone or lift breasts that have already begun to droop. However, incorporating specific chest exercises into your workouts can help work out the muscles surrounding your breasts. This, in turn, can prevent you from losing breast mass, regardless of fat loss.
The American Council on Exercise particularly recommends exercises like chest presses, bench presses, push-ups and cable flyes as these exercises work out your pectoral muscles. If you're already in shape and are looking for a harder workout, you can try out variations of these exercises. Medicine ball push-ups, single-arm rotational presses and single-arm chest presses are much harder versions of these popular exercises.
- American Council on Exercise: "Chest Exercises"
- Annals of Plastic Surgery: "Simple Reshaping of the Breast in Massive Weight Loss Patients"
- Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open: "What Is the Most Important Factor of Breast Ptosis? Considerations for Breast Reconstruction Studied with Mastectomy Patients"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Breast Anatomy"