Women can get the same health benefits from exercise as men in half the time - study

Women get the same health benefits from exercise in half the time it takes for men
Women get the same health benefits from exercise in half the time it takes for men Copyright Canva
By Oceane Duboust
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Women reduced their mortality risk by 15 per cent in less than two and half hours of weekly exercise while it takes men five hours to get the same benefits, a study showed.

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Women can exercise less frequently than men and receive better cardiovascular benefits, according to a new study.

Researchers analysed data from more than 412,000 adults in the US over 20 years who provided information regarding their leisure-time physical activity.

The researchers found that men had the most benefits by doing physical activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, for five hours per week, but beyond that time, their health gains plateaued.

Women, meanwhile, achieved the same degree of health benefits from exercising for 140 minutes per week, (just under two and a half hours) with benefits increasing for women up to a peak of five hours of exercise per week.

For weightlifting or core exercises, men maximised their benefits by engaging in three weekly sessions, while women achieved comparable benefits with just one session per week.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“For all adults engaging in any regular physical activity, compared to being inactive, mortality risk was expectedly lower,” Susan Cheng, a professor of cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in the US and senior author of the study, said in a statement.

“Intriguingly, though, mortality risk was reduced by 24 per cent in women and 15 per cent in men,” she added.

Women typically exercise less than men

Exercise is considered a “miracle pill” thanks to the overall benefits that come with it reducing the risks of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, according to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

The recommendation for adults between 18 and 64 is to do either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity.

But there’s also a gender gap between men and women when it comes to frequency of exercise.

Some 45 per cent of men exercise or play a sport at least once a week, compared to 37 per cent of women in the European Union.

“Women have historically and statistically lagged behind men in engaging in meaningful exercise,” said Martha Gulati, a professor of cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai.

“The beauty of this study is learning that women can get more out of each minute of moderate to vigorous activity than men do. It’s an incentivising notion that we hope women will take to heart,” Gulati, who is the study’s co-lead author, added.

Christine Albert, a professor of cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute who was not involved in the study said: “I am hopeful that this pioneering research will motivate women who are not currently engaged in regular physical activity to understand that they are in a position to gain tremendous benefit for each increment of regular exercise they are able to invest in their longer-term health”.

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