FEB 29, 2024 9:00 AM PST

Women Get the Same Heart Benefits from Exercise with Less Effort

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has shown that women can exercise less often than men but receive greater cardiovascular benefits from that exercise.

The prospective study included over 412,000 American adults who completed a survey on leisure-time physical activity, including frequency, duration, intensity, and type of activity. Then, the participants’ rates of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality were monitored, with the study spanning from 1997 to 2019. Data from males and females were separated to see trends in exercise and mortality and how those trends might differ according to sex.

The results showed that, compared to inactivity, regularly participating in leisure-time physical activity lowered the risk of all-cause mortality by 24% in women and by 15% in men. Men reached maximal benefits when they averaged 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week, while women reached the same benefit as men at only 140 minutes per week. However, women could continue to increase the benefits of exercise, with their maximum benefits also occurring at about 300 minutes per week. The differences in benefits between men and women were similar for cardiovascular mortality, and the results applied across all measures of aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activity.

The authors of the study noted that women have historically and statistically participated in less physical activity than men. However, these results may provide encouragement for women to participate in more exercise, since they receive greater benefits from each minute of exercise than men. Women can achieve major benefits by participating in any physical activity, but aiming for around 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week, or two or more sessions of muscle-strengthening activity per week, will lead to maximum health and longevity benefits.

Sources: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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