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Women get more benefits from exercise than men - with substantially less effort

Cedars-Sinai investigators found that women can exercise less often than men, yet receive greater cardiovascular gains. (CREDIT: Getty Images)


In a recent study conducted by the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, researchers have unearthed a notable gender discrepancy concerning exercise and its cardiovascular benefits.


Published in the esteemed Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), the findings reveal that while women may exercise less frequently than men, they reap greater cardiovascular rewards.


 
 

Dr. Martha Gulati, co-lead author of the study and Director of Preventive Cardiology in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, emphasized the historical disparity, stating, "Women have historically and statistically lagged behind men in engaging in meaningful exercise."


However, she added, "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 incentivizing notion that we hope women will take to heart."


 

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The research, which analyzed data from 412,413 U.S. adults spanning from 1997 to 2019, delved into various aspects of leisure-time physical activity. Notably, 55% of the participants were female.


Dr. Susan Cheng, senior author of the study and Director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, highlighted the significance of the findings, stating, "For all adults engaging in any regular physical activity, compared to being inactive, mortality risk was expectedly lower." She further added, "Intriguingly, though, mortality risk was reduced by 24% in women and 15% in men."


 
 

The study focused on gender-specific outcomes regarding the frequency, duration, intensity, and type of physical activity. When it came to moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, men reached their optimal survival benefit after approximately five hours per week, whereas women achieved similar benefits with less than 2 1/2 hours per week.


(LEFT) Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Health and Population Science. (RIGHT) Martha Gulati, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology in the Department of Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. (CREDIT: Cedars-Sinai)


Similarly, for muscle-strengthening activities like weightlifting or core exercises, men gained peak benefits from three sessions per week, while women achieved comparable benefits with just one session per week.


 
 

Dr. Cheng underscored that women experienced even greater gains with increased activity levels, stating, "Women had even greater gains if they engaged in more than 2 1/2 hours per week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, or in two or more sessions per week of muscle-strengthening activities." She emphasized how these findings shed light on sex-specific physiology in exercise-related clinical outcomes.




Dr. Gulati emphasized the power of these recommendations based on the study’s findings, stating, "Men get a maximal survival benefit when performing 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week, whereas women get the same benefit from 140 minutes per week." She further noted, "Nonetheless, women continue to get further benefit for up to 300 minutes a week."


 
 

Dr. Christine M. Albert, Chair of the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, highlighted the significance of this pioneering research, stating, "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."


Sex-Specific Association of MVPA With All-Cause Mortality. (CREDIT: Journal of the American College of Cardiology)


Among the other contributors to this groundbreaking study from Cedars-Sinai were Tzu Yu Huang, Alan Kwan, David Ouyang, Joseph Ebinger, Hongwei Ji, Kaitlin Casaletto, Kerrie L. Moreau, and Hicham Skali.


 
 

These findings serve as a significant step forward in understanding and promoting gender-specific approaches to physical fitness and cardiovascular health.






For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.


 

Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


 
 

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