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Can women outlast men in the gym?

Researchers in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Canada have determined that women are considerably less exhausted after exercising than men of similar age and athletic ability.

“We’ve known for some time that women are less fatiguable than men during isometric muscle tests – static exercises where joints don’t move, such as holding a weight – but we wanted to find out if that’s true during more dynamic and practical everyday movements, ” says Assistant Professor Brian Dalton. “And the answer is pretty definitive: women can outlast men by a wide margin.”

Eight men and nine women were recruited as part of the study and asked to flex their foot against sensors as quickly as they could 200 times. Dalton and colleagues captured and recorded the speed, power and torque of their movements and the electrical activity of their muscles over time. “We chose to measure foot movements because it makes use of calf muscles on the back of the leg, which are essential for practical, everyday tasks like standing and walking,” says Dalton. “What we found is that males were faster and more powerful at first but became more fatigued much faster than females.”

According to Dalton the results of the experiment can be used to design exercise protocols or even adapting work environments to minimize work-related fatigue and improve overall productivity.”We may, for example, want to lower the load for males, even though they may be stronger at the outset, to more closely match the endurance observed in females. Both sexes have valuable physical abilities and it only makes sense that we study and develop the tools to afford them the best advantage. There’s no battle at all. Maybe more of a balance of the sexes,” says Dalton.

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