Science Says Women Are Fitter Than Men, Here’s Why
It has often been thought that men have a clear advantage over women when it comes to physical strength and ability. Surprisingly, a recent study showed that, in one important aspect of fitness, women gained clear victory over men and proved that they aren’t that far behind in strength and speed in comparison to their male counterparts.
A Research to Measure Aerobic Fitness
The research was first published in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism journal which involved nine men and nine women between the age of 18 and 30. The participants of the study who had similar BMI were told to walk on a treadmill and gradually increase the speed and incline after the initial warmup until they almost reached their maximum heart rate.
Face masks were also used as part of the apparatus to observe how much oxygen each participant used and how much carbon dioxide they produced during the exercise. The key measurement that the researchers focused on was how quickly the oxygen intake increased once each participant transitioned from rest to exercise.
Are Women Really Fitter Than Men?
One of the authors of the study and professor at University of Waterloo, Richard Hughson, says that this measure was extremely important in determining which gender had the higher ability to adapt to an exercise.
According to him, people who are unfit take more time to adapt to any exercise and since their bodies perceive physical movement as extremely burdensome, they give up more quickly and become unfit. Oxygen intake is a great measure of fitness level often used on athletes – and in this particular study, women excelled.
The results of the research showed that women only took 30 seconds to adjust to the exercise whereas men took 42 seconds. This time difference translates to 30% increase in oxygen processing efficiency in women which proves that female athletes have clear advantage over men when it comes to speed and efficiency.
Furthermore, the researchers also discovered that women are more efficient in transporting oxygen throughout the body hence delaying the onset of fatigue. Due to the efficient transportation of oxygen to muscle tissues, female athletes were also unlikely to develop muscle soreness after exercising.
Men May be Stronger, But Not Fitter Overall
As we continuously progress towards achieving gender equality in various professional fields, this research comes as a breakthrough in how the strength difference between men and women is perceived during athletic training in the sports industry.
It is true that men are physically stronger than women but physical health and athleticism is not an even playground, and where men have advantage over women in certain fitness aspects, female athletes also have an upper hand in other characteristics which make them better in speed and endurance.
After the success of the initial study, Thomas Beltrame, the lead researcher, says that he and his research team plan to broaden its scope and include more professional athletes instead of normal people who simply enjoy exercising, in order to see if the results they found from the first experiment also apply to the fittest men and women in the sports industry.
How the Findings Could Impact Athletic Training in Women
So what are the implications of this research’s findings? Richard Hughson says that since women use oxygen more efficiently to fuel their bodies during an intense workout, their aerobic system is superior to men.
In the fitness industry, oxygen uptake is considered a key measure in determining aerobic fitness which means that women are better at performing high-intensity aerobic exercises. Apart from slow onset of fatigue, the increased oxygen processing efficiency in women also lowers the perception of physical labor during the exercise.
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