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London - Bad news for women: Scientists have discovered that when it comes to the benefits of exercise, the odds appear to be firmly stacked against the fairer sex.
New research suggests that women have to do a lot more exercise to get the same health benefits as men, in terms of diet and fitness.
Scientists at the University of Missouri who put obese men and women on the same fitness programme found men reaped significantly more benefits.
And experts are now warning that while exercise alone may be enough for men to lose weight, women must also address their diet to get the same results.
During the study, Professor Jill Kanaley and her colleagues looked at the heart rate and blood pressure of nearly 75 obese men and women with Type 2 diabetes.
They all followed a programme of aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise for 16 weeks. They all worked at an effort of 65 percent, which was worked out based on each individual’s ability.
Despite everyone exercising at relatively the same speed, the researchers found that men got far more benefit from the exercise than women.
Over the 16 weeks, women’s recovery time did not improve, whereas men’s did, indicating their fitness had improved.
They also lost more weight.
Commenting on the study, Dr Chris Easton, a lecturer in clinical exercise psychology at the University of West Scotland, said: “This adds to a growing body of evidence that men and women respond to exercise in different ways.
“One main reason for this is body composition – men have a higher proportion of muscle than women – and muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat.
“This is crucially important as it means that even when they are resting, men burn more calories than women.
“This indicates that women really have to look at their diet as well as exercise, whereas men may be able to get by with exercise alone.”
Easton said that to get the same effect as a man working at 65 percent effort, a woman would need to work at around 85 percent effort – or work out for longer.
He added that men naturally had an advantage when it came to fitness as they had larger hearts and lungs and a higher proportion of haemoglobin – that part of the blood that carries oxygen around the body, which is vital during exercise.
Study leader Kanaley said: “This research highlights that the advantages we think exercise is going to give individuals may not be the same across genders, particularly for those who have Type 2 diabetes. This is a concern because there are high mortality rates with Type 2 diabetes, especially for women.
“We keep assuming that exercise will do the trick – we think when we tell people to ‘go train’, regardless of gender, everyone will get the same results.
“Our research indicates certain exercises may not be enough for women.
“These findings could help health providers and researchers develop targeted exercise interventions for obese women.”
The study was published in the journal Metabolism. – Daily Mail
SO WHAT IS THE BEST WAY FOR WOMEN TO LOSE WEIGHT?
Personal trainer Dan Roberts says “by far the best way” for women to lose weight is to lift weights. This temporarily raises levels of testosterone and growth hormones, which burns more fat.
“It’s all to do with hormones. Men have more muscle because they have more testosterone. Women have more oestrogen which naturally makes them store more body fat.
“Women also have to work harder to lose weight because they store fat around the thighs, bottom and stomach to protect the womb and for childbearing reasons.
“Older women in particular have the lowest testosterone levels. It is they, not 20-year-old boys, who should be doing weight training.”
Roberts also recommends that women ditch the tiny dumbbells, too.
“Women should be doing what’s known as compound weight training, that is, using muscles such as the glutes and quads. The bigger the muscle groups you use, the more calories you will burn.”