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Women Only Need Half the Exercise Men Do to Live Longer

According to a recent study that was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, women only need to exercise half as much as men do to get the same longevity advantages.

This is encouraging for women who find it difficult to find the motivation to work out, according to Dr. Martha Gulati, co-author of the study and director of preventive cardiology at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Gulati states,“For me, the news to women is: a little goes a long way,” 

Researchers discovered that males who engaged in roughly 300 minutes of aerobic exercise each week were 18% less likely to die than men who did not engage in any physical activity. However, women may have a comparable effect from exercise with just 140 minutes a week, and those who exercised for roughly 300 minutes a week had a 24 percent decreased risk of dying.

An analogous analysis was conducted by the researchers on exercises that build muscles, such weight training. They discovered the same pattern: three weekly sessions for men were linked to twice the longevity advantage for women as a single weekly strength-training session.

According to Gulati, women often have less muscle mass than men do, so even “if they do the same amount of strengthening exercises, they may have greater benefits with smaller doses just based on the fact that they don’t have as much to begin with.”. There may also be other sex-related physiological variations at work, such as variations in the lungs and cardiopulmonary system.

Gulati and her colleagues combined mortality records with self-reported exercise habits from over 400,000 adult U.S. participants who completed the National Health Interview Survey between 1997 and 2017 in order to arrive at their conclusions. During the study period, around 40,000 of the participants passed away.

The observational strategy, in which the researchers searched for patterns in previously collected data, is insufficient to establish causation. It’s likely that participants in the study who were physically active were either generally healthier or had other lifestyle factors that contributed to their extended lifespans rather than exercise itself. By eliminating participants who had significant mobility impairments, serious preexisting diseases, or who passed away during the first two years of the study’s follow-up—people who might have been unwell from the start—the researchers attempted to account for those possibilities.

The study was further constrained by its reliance on inconsistent self-reported exercise data. The poll may not have taken into consideration physical activity that takes place at work or while doing household tasks, as it also inquired about people’s leisure activities. However, there is growing evidence that suggests such physical activity can significantly enhance one’s health.

Gulati states that additional study is necessary to validate the results, in part because of those constraints. However, she asserts that the study—as well as others that have come to comparable conclusions—provides a strong indication that “women are not just small men” and that sex-based differences must be incorporated into research and public-health policy. “For years, we’ve used men as the standard,” Gulati states, even though it may not have been accurate.

Consider the federal physical activity guidelines, which provide the same general advice for adults in the United States: two sessions of muscle-strengthening each week and at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise. Approximately 28% of American males and 20% of American women met both standards in 2020, according to research.

At least according to Gulati’s research, women may benefit significantly from longer lifespans even if they fall short of those goals. However, she adds that males shouldn’t be discouraged by the results either.
According to recent studies, even extremely brief periods of exercise are beneficial for people of both sexes, since simply a few minutes a day of movement can increase longevity.

Gulati asserts, “Our pitch should be the same to men and women: something is better than nothing,” “Sit less and move more.”

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