Women can achieve equal health benefits from half the exercise men do: study

Women can achieve equal health benefits from half the exercise men do: studyWomen can achieve equal health benefits from half the exercise men do: study
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A recent study found that women can achieve equivalent health benefits with about half the amount of exercise men do. 
Key points:
  • In the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers investigated sex differences in the association between exercise habits and all-cause mortality risks as well as cardiovascular death among American adults. 
  • Researchers found that women gained greater health benefits from the same amount of leisure-time physical activity compared to men. 
The details:
  • The study, conducted by a multi-institutional team including researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, analyzed data from 412,413 adults who participated in the National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2019.
  • They found that although men reported engaging in more exercise than women, it was the female participants who experienced greater benefits from their workout sessions. Specifically, women achieved similar reductions in mortality risk with significantly less exercise compared to men.
  • For example, men needed 300 minutes of aerobic exercise per week for an 18% reduction in mortality risk, whereas women achieved the same benefit with only 140 minutes of exercise. Women who engaged in 300 minutes of weekly aerobic exercise experienced a 24% decrease in the risk of death.
  • Similarly, women benefited more from strength-training exercise, achieving similar or greater survival benefits with fewer sessions compared to men. 
  • Researchers emphasized the importance of considering sex-based differences in exercise recommendations and public health policies, which historically have been based on male standards. 
  • The study has limitations, such as its focus on an American population, reliance on self-reported exercise data and the exclusion of other forms of physical activity. 
  • Further research is needed to validate these findings and better understand the implications for public health guidelines.
  • Dr. Hongwei Ji, co-author of the study, also clarified that their research does not advocate for women to exercise less. Instead, it notes that “relatively small amounts of exercise can provide significant benefits” to women who may not be meeting recommended activity levels.
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