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Women can exercise less than men for the same health benefits

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Great news for women (for once)—they can exercise less often than men and still get the same benefits, especially when it comes to heart health.

Men need to exercise for 300 minutes a week to achieve maximum health benefits—but women reach the same level after just 140 minutes.  The exercises were ‘moderate to vigorous’ and included brisk walking and cycling.

The same goes for strength training, a typical preserve of men: women can get maximum health benefits from just one session a week, while men need to complete three sessions to reach a similar level.

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre looked at the impact of exercise on 412,000 people, 55 percent of whom were women, over a 22-year time span. 

All the participants who regularly exercised were living longer and healthier lives, but activity was benefiting women more.  Although the women were, on average, exercising less often than men, their risk of premature death fell by 24 percent compared to a 15 percent drop in men who exercised.

Women who matched men for the amount of time exercising exceeded the health gains that the men achieved.  

“Women can get more out of each minute of moderate to vigorous activity than men do.  It’s an incentivising notion that we hope women will take to heart,” said Martha Culatti, one of the researchers.

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Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2024; 83: 783; doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2023.12.019
Article Topics: exercise, Heart Health
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