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Women benefit more from exercise than men, study suggests

The benefits of exercise are great for everyone – but may be even better for women, according to a new study.
Many studies have shown that any amount of physical activity helps to reduce risk of premature death, but a new study published today found women need less exercise to gain the same benefit as men,
"Put another way, for a given amount of time and effort put into exercise, women had more to gain than men," study author Dr Susan Cheng said.
Two people running near beach.
Exercise particularly reduced risk of death for women, according to the data. (Supplied)
Most adults are not meeting the recommended amounts of exercise, she added.
Adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle-strengthening activity a week.
In this study, more than 400,000 US adults aged between 27 - 61 reported on their exercise levels in a survey every few years from 1997 to 2019.
Researchers then used national death records from the two years after the survey period to track mortality from all-causes and specifically cardiovascular-related illness.
Nearly 40,000 people in the survey died during that period, and 11,670 of those were cardiovascular deaths, the study said.
Over that time, women who exercised for at least 150 minutes a week were 24 per cent less likely to die from any cause than women who exercised less than that amount.
Men who exercised for at least 150 minutes each week were 15 per cent less likely to die than other men who did not reach that threshold, the data showed.
Women were also 36 per cent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event if they exercised, compared to a 14 per cent reduced risk in men who exercised.
Whereas men needed 300 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity to see their biggest reduction is risk of death, women saw the same benefit at 140 minutes a week – and their risk kept getting lower as they went up to 300 minutes a week, the study showed.
This study was observational, meaning that while the data can only show a correlation between exercise and risk for death, researchers can't say that the exercise is causing the lowered risk.
And the exercise was classified by intensity, but it isn't clear what types of activities were included in the study.
The results of the latest study are reliable and add to a body of evidence showing the differences in men and women's results with exercise and the importance of regular physical activity to good health and well-being, Dr Andrew Freeman, an American cardiovascular expert, said.
Physical activity is a treatment not enough people utilise and too few doctors prioritise, he added.
Freeman was not involved in the study.
Group of joggers run under bridge.
Study concluded that women see more benefits to their health with exercise than men. (iStock)
"If I said to a patient, 'hey, I have a medicine that you can take every day that will not only help to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, cancer, memory loss, dementia, but it will improve your mood,' people would be going nuts for it," Freeman said.
"And the truth is, it exists. It's just not in a pill form – its sweat equity."
Why was such a difference in the benefits from exercise for men and women?
Data has shown people who are female tend to exercise with less frequency and tendency than those who are male, Cheng said.
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This could mean women get more bang for their buck when they do exercise.
Another piece of the puzzle lies in physiological differences.
There have been many studies showing that women are more likely to make faster and bigger gains in muscular strength when they work out than men.

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