App for female athletes ‘is about training smarter, not harder’

A new fitness app that allows women to adapt their training and nutrition needs around their menstrual cycle has been endorsed by the Ladies Gaelic Football Association.

Some of the top ladies footballers in the country at the launch of the FitrWoman app at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The groundbreaking FitrWoman app by Irish sports tech firm, Orreco, provides personalised day-to-day evidence-based training and nutrition suggestions tailored to the changing hormones in a woman’s body.

It also allows access to insights gleaned by Orreco’s two decades of working with top athletes, including World champion runner Sonia O’Sullivan.

Sport’s scientist, Dr Georgie Bruinvels, together with Orreco’s product development manager, Gráinne Conefrey, designed FitrWoman. She hopes the app might help more girls keep up sports.

“It is aimed at both recreational and elite athletes and is available to download for free. Nothing like this has ever been done before,” said Dr Bruinvels.

We launched our first version last June. It was downloaded 10,000 times in just six months. We began working on the latest version just launched in January.

Dr Bruinvels said they knew that girls were increasingly dropping out of sport because of their menstrual cycle.

“Our app lets them know that it is normal to have a menstrual cycle and that they can adapt their training to reflect it. It is not about training harder; it is about training smarter.”

Ms Conefrey said FitrWoman provided the latest insights, research and tips specifically focused on female athletes.

The app is a one-stop shop that allows users to keep track of their own cycle while also viewing key training and nutrition suggestions which change depending on a user’s phase,” she said.

“Our goal is to give exercising women a competitive edge at all times during their menstrual cycle. By tailoring training and nutrition in line with the fluctuations in hormones throughout the cycle, women can learn to adapt training to gain maximum benefits, reduce injury risk and know when to prioritise recovery.”

Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) chief executive Helen O’Rourke said the app was an essential download for their players and all female athletes.

“We have heard anecdotal evidence for many years relating to the effects of the menstrual cycle on player training, performance and recovery,” said Ms O’Rourke.

Orreco scientists and performance experts will work with the LGFA in providing provincial coach and player education workshops.

LGFA specific research will also be conducted that will benefit the girls and women playing Ladies Gaelic Football.

According to Orreco, there has been a lack of research on female athletes. The anatomy and physiology of men and women are very different and so are their training requirements.

Emerging research is highlighting how exercise and nutrition can be adapted to optimise training and performance and to reduce injury risk in women, but more is needed.

Research by Orreco and FitrWoman shows that over half (54%) stopped exercising because of their menstrual cycle.

Young women are the most severely impacted group with 73% of all 16 to 24-year-olds saying their menstrual cycle has caused them to stop exercising or playing sport at some point.

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