When the world is voraciously vocal about equality, biology smirks at us and tells us how scientifically wrong we are! Men and women are not equal, at least biologically. A recent study conducted by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Cardia Risk in the Young (CRY) revealed that the hearts of men and women responded differently to physical exercises. More importantly, men who think they are stronger, need to think it twice because the study says older male endurance athletes may lose the race for cardiac health when they compete with women of the same age group.
There was another study conducted before this study, which suggested the fat-burning benefits of exercise could be different for men and women. The study also said that women got the best result when they hit the gym early in the day, while for men, evening blasts were better. Dr Paul Arciero, lead study author and professor of health and human physiological sciences at Skidmore College, New York state, suggested men work out late as it minimized the risk of cardiovascular diseases and fatigue.
Women lose significantly more belly fat in long-distance running and swimming because the body depends on stored fat for fuel than carbohydrates in endurance training like long-distance running, fartlek runs or swimming. Genetically, women have more body fat than men, so these types of endurance training will give better results to women than men.
Why do Men Burn More Calories than Women?
An average weighing man would burn roughly around 125 calories a km when running. On the same parameters, a woman could expect to lose only 105 calories. Obviously, there are certain exceptions because of diet, genetics, lifestyle etc. but on average men lose more calories over the same distance when running. When walking a km, a man might lose 90 calories, while a woman would shed around 75 calories. The primary reason for this difference in calorie expenditure is because men are large and heavy, and it takes more energy to move a male body.
Women are Better in Endurance Training
There are many studies that suggest that women have a better capability for endurance training. In fact, women’s hearts respond more strongly than men’s hearts in marathon training. In the article published in the European Journal of Physiology states that women display less aortic stiffness when the elastic fibres within the arterial walls are subjected to intense stress due to marathon training. It is stated that women’s hearts pump more oxygen-rich blood around the body, compared to male runners.
There is also a reason for hormones that can be a reason for more endurance in women. The female hormone oestrogen can regulate blood cholesterol levels and prevent the narrowing of the arteries. This is also a possible reason that men are more prone to cardiovascular diseases.
Why Men Have the Edge?
Men have always had a big physiological advantage over women. Men have a bigger structure, bigger heart and lungs and therefore more lung capacity. Moreover, men have far greater muscle mass than women ad higher levels of oxygen-ferrying haemoglobin, which leads to more aerobic capacity. Even an underweight man has enough fat storage to last long for supplying energy in a marathon run or a long endurance event.
Hormones, Genes and Lifestyle Affects Fat Deposition
There are three main reasons for belly fat for middle-aged men. First, the declining testosterone will reduce the muscle mass and increase fat cells by decreasing metabolism, rising levels of stress hormone and genetics. There are other reasons like sedentary lifestyle and diet, but these factors are secondary.
For women, the rise and fall of the hormone oestrogen is the main reason for fat deposition. Stress hormones are also responsible for belly fat and back fat. Many middle-aged women gain fat around the middle in response to the body’s demand for oestrogen deposits in fat cells.
It is a misleading concept that a few planks and crunches can reduce fat deposition. The best way is to increase the body’s metabolism by hardcore endurance training such as running, cycling and resistance training. Also, maintain a healthy diet that includes a sufficient amount of protein.
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