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Women get more benefit from exercise than men, study finds: ‘More to gain’

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Women get more benefit from exercise than men, study finds: ‘More to gain’

When it comes to reaping the rewards of exercise, women may have a leg up.

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that females may get more benefits than men when doing the same amount of physical activity.

Researchers from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles analyzed the physical activity data of 412,413 U.S. adults.

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The participants all responded to the National Health Interview Survey database between 1997 and 2019, providing details about the frequency, duration, intensity and type of physical activity, according to a press release from the hospital.

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In terms of cardiovascular exercise, the researchers found that men gained their maximum “survival benefit” from doing “moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity” for about five hours per week.

Females may get more benefits than men when doing the same amount of physical activity, says a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  (iStock)

For women, that same level of benefit was achieved after just 2½ hours of that exercise intensity per week.

Women continued to gain more benefits after that time, however.

THE MORE PEOPLE EXERCISE, THE LAZIER THEY ARE THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE DAY, STUDY SUGGESTS

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Examples of “moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity” include brisk walking or cycling, the study detailed.

For strength training exercises, men hit their maximum benefit from three weekly sessions, while women achieved the same outcome with just one session per week.

“We found not only that progressively greater amounts of physical activity reduced mortality risk, but also that the amount of regular exercise needed to achieve the same degree of risk reduction was different in females versus males,” said senior author Susan Cheng, M.D., MPH, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute.

Lifting weights

For strength training exercises, men hit their maximum benefit from three weekly sessions, while women achieved the same outcome with just one session per week. (iStock)

“In effect, women did not need to exercise for as much time as men to achieve the same benefit,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“Put another way, for a given amount of time and effort put into exercise, women had more to gain than men.”

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Co-lead author Martha Gulati, M.D., director of preventive cardiology in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, noted in the release that women have historically and statistically lagged behind men in engaging in exercise.

“Exercise doesn’t discriminate, no matter your gender. You have to put the work in to be healthy.”

“The beauty of this study is learning that women can get more out of each minute of moderate to vigorous activity than men do,” Gulati said. 

“It’s an incentivizing notion that we hope women will take to heart.”

While mortality risk decreased for all adults, it was reduced by 24% for women and 15% for men, according to Cheng.

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Woman rowing

In terms of cardiovascular exercise, the researchers found that men gained their maximum “survival benefit” from doing “moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity” for about five hours per week. (iStock)

“We hope that the results of this study will help to motivate females who are not currently engaged in regular physical activity to understand that they are in a position to gain substantial benefit, technically even more than their counterpart males, for each increment of regular exercise they are able to invest in their longer-term health,” Cheng told Fox News Digital. 

“Part of what makes females and males different is that when it comes to living longer and living healthier, different types of investments are linked to different types of gains.” 

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The researchers hope that these findings will help women who may feel too busy or too intimidated to take on a new exercise routine without feeling that they have to compare themselves to men.

“They can be on their own path to success and every bit of progress will count,” Cheng said.

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Women Taking Part In Gym Fitness Class

While mortality risk decreased for all adults, it was reduced by 24% for women and 15% for men, according to the researchers. (iStock)

Chris Pruitt, a certified personal trainer with the American Sports and Fitness Association (ASFA) who is based in Maryland, was not involved in the study but said it aligns with observations that women and men may require different approaches to achieve similar health outcomes.

“In my experience, individual responses to exercise can vary widely, and it’s fascinating to see this backed by research,” he told Fox News Digital. 

“Biological differences between genders, including hormonal variations and body composition, likely play a significant role in these observed differences,” Pruitt went on. 

“Women may use energy or recover from exercise differently than men, leading to these distinct benefits from less exercise.”

5 WAYS TO STICK WITH YOUR ‘EXERCISE MORE’ NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION IN 2024, FROM A NEW YORK DOCTOR

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This research illustrates the importance of personalized fitness programs that consider gender differences, he said.

“It suggests that fitness advice should be more tailored to the individual’s goals and abilities and their gender-specific physiological responses to exercise.”

Potential limitations

The chief limitation of the study is that all physical activity data was self-reported — which creates the possibility for inaccuracies.

“In the future, direct measures of exercise could be analyzed using wearable devices,” Cheng said. 

Older woman with weight

The researchers hope that these findings will help women who may feel too busy or too intimidated to take on a new exercise routine without feeling that they have to compare themselves to men. (iStock)

“A very large study of people whose exercise is digitally tracked and measured could one day give us even more detailed information on differences not only between women and men, but also within women and within men.”

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“There is still a lot more work we need to do to figure out how to best tailor exercise recommendations to each individual person to best meet their individual needs.”

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Josh York, founder and CEO of the New York-based fitness training company GYMGUYZ, reviewed the study and said he does not think the findings should influence people’s fitness routines.

“There are a lot of things you need for good health and fitness, including proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle,” he told Fox News Digital.

“There are a lot of different variables at play when it comes to assessing a person’s exercise needs and requirements.”

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A tall man and short woman in gym attire stretch together.

As each individual is different, a fitness expert said that “sweeping assumptions” about each gender’s exercise needs and outcomes don’t take into account variations in individuals’ circumstances. (iStock)

While the study looked at maximal survival benefit, York noted that some people might be motivated by other goals, such as looking a certain way.

“At the end of the day, exercise doesn’t discriminate, no matter your gender,” he said. “You have to put the work in to be healthy. If someone puts more work in, has a healthy diet and lives in a safe environment, they are going to get better results, because physical health is influenced by your habits and mental well-being.”

As each individual is different, York said that “sweeping assumptions” about each gender’s exercise needs and outcomes don’t take into account variations in individuals’ circumstances.

“I don’t think people should use this as guidance to reduce their exercise regimens,” he said.

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Health

Health weekend roundup: A mother's health mission, sleep-blocking foods, heat illnesses and more

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Health weekend roundup: A mother's health mission, sleep-blocking foods, heat illnesses and more

Fox News Digital publishes an array of health pieces all week long to keep you in the know on a range of wellness topics: health care access, innovative surgeries, cancer research, mental health trends and much more — plus, personal stories of people and families overcoming great obstacles.

Check out some top recent stories in Health as your weekend continues — and prep for the week ahead.

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These are just a few of what’s new, of course. 

There are many more to see at http://www.foxnews/health

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Utah mom fights for her daughter’s access to ‘life-saving’ medication

For Ruby Smart, 15, Levemir is the insulin medication that works best to control her type 1 diabetes — but the manufacturer is discontinuing it. 

Alison Smart is on a mission to protect her daughter’s access to the drug. Click here to get the story.

Utah mother Alison Smart (in green sweater, pictured with Ruby Smart, age 15) is fighting for her teenage daughter’s access to diabetes medicine. (Alison Smart/iStock)

CDC warns of extreme heat dangers

Is extreme heat a public health threat? 

Fox News Digital reports the findings in the latest Mortality & Morbidity Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a spike in emergency room visits due to heat-related illness. Doctors chime in on the potential risk. Click here to get the story.

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Thermometer - heat wave

Many regions across the United States experienced “record-breaking high temperatures” in 2023 due to extreme heat, according to the CDC. (iStock)

Surprising reason for sleep struggles

If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, you might be overlooking one important lifestyle factor. 

Two sleep specialists reveal essential ingredients for high-quality sleep. Click here to get the story.

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What you eat can have an impact on how well you sleep at night, experts say. (iStock)

The girl who can’t smile

Tayla Clement, 26, was born with a rare disorder that has made it impossible for her to smile — but she says she is grateful for it. 

The New Zealand woman discusses with Fox News Digital how she overcame trauma and learned to celebrate her differences. Click here to get the story.

Tayla Clement split image

Tayla Clement, born and raised in New Zealand, has Moebius syndrome, a neurological disease that affects one child out of every 50,000 to 500,000. (Tayla Clement)

‘Forever chemicals’ found in water across US

A new study found that higher amounts of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances) were found in drinking water in certain parts of the U.S. 

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Public health experts weigh in on the risks of the toxic chemicals. Click here to get the story.

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PFAS “hot spots” were concentrated in the Midwest, New England and the West Coast, the researchers found. (iStock)

Pick-me-ups to beat the midday slump

Is the “post-lunch coma” slowing down your productivity? 

A nutritional biologist shares six proven energy-boosters to to prevent post-meal fatigue. Click here to get the story.

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This week’s health recap includes stories about heat hazards, a mother’s fight for her daughter’s diabetes medication, and a little-known disruption of healthy sleep. (iStock / Alison Smart)

Drinking pure orange juice is linked to surprising benefits

A new study found that people who drank 100% orange juice consumed fewer calories than those who drank a sugar-sweetened orange beverage. 

Nutritionists reacted to the findings. Click here to get the story.

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Americans need more sleep and less stress

Many U.S. adults are getting too little sleep and have too much stress, according to a new Gallup poll. 

Dr. Marc Siegel of New York and a sleep expert and behavioral scientist discuss the connection between disordered sleep and dangerous stress levels. Click here to get the story.

Tired woman at computer

The poll showed that 63% of Americans who reported wanting more sleep also “frequently experience stress.” (iStock)

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'Xena: Warrior Princess' — See the Cast of This Hit Series Then and Now!

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Americans need more sleep, less stress, experts say, as Gallup poll reveals troubling findings

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Americans need more sleep, less stress, experts say, as Gallup poll reveals troubling findings

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Many Americans are getting too little sleep and have too much stress.

A new Gallup poll revealed 57% of adults would “feel better if they got more sleep,” while 42% said they get “as much sleep as they need.”

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These findings have nearly reversed in the last decade, Gallup noted in a press release. The last measurement in 2013 found that 56% of Americans got the sleep they needed while 43% did not.

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Overall, however, Americans are getting fewer hours of sleep than they did in past decades.

In 1942, 59% of Americans were getting eight hours or more of sleep per night, while only 3% were getting five hours or less.

Fifty-seven percent of adults said they would “feel better if they got more sleep,” a new Gallup poll revealed. (iStock)

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In 2024, only 25% of Americans get an average of eight hours of sleep, and 20% reported sleeping for five or less.

Young women are the least likely to get enough sleep, according to the study — with 36% of females versus 48% of males reporting getting enough shuteye.

SLEEP DISORDERS AND SUICIDE: A MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT REVEALS THE CONCERNING LINK

Sleep amounts for both men and women showed “significant declines from previous readings in 2013 and 2004,” according to Gallup — and are the lowest measured for each group to date.

The decline was found across all age groups, although young adults between ages 18 and 29 saw the smallest difference.

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Stress-sleep connection

Gallup suggested that an uptick in stress could be driving this downward trend in sleep, as the American Psychological Association reports a “strong connection between stress and sleep quality.”

The poll showed that 63% of Americans who reported wanting more sleep also “frequently experience stress.”

Tired woman at computer

Women are most likely to frequently experience stress, the Gallup poll found. (iStock)

“Over the past 30 years, the number of Americans who are stressed has been on a steady incline after a sharp drop in 2003,” Gallup reported.

“The most recent data show that nearly half of all Americans, 49%, report frequently experiencing stress — up 16 points over the past two decades and the highest in Gallup’s trend to date.”

IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP BY OPTIMIZING 6 BIOMARKERS: ‘INTEGRAL TO HEALTH’

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Young women are also most likely to frequently experience stress, “exceeding men their age by 14 points,” according to Gallup.

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, confirmed this relationship between sleep and stress, calling it the “cycle of worry” during a Thursday appearance on “America’s Newsroom.”

dr. marc siegel on america's newsroom

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, discussed the relationship between sleep and stress during a Thursday appearance on “America’s Newsroom.” He noted that exposure to the blue light of smartphone screens can keep people awake, among other issues. (Fox News)

“They’re connected,” he said. 

“If you get more stressed, you don’t sleep; if you don’t sleep, you get more stressed.”

Siegel explained that “all of this spirals out of control,” since sleeplessness is often remedied with caffeine — yet caffeine “interferes with your sleep cycle.”

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“If you get more stressed, you don’t sleep; if you don’t sleep, you get more stressed.”

The same goes for drinking alcohol before bed to induce sleep, which “wears off and you wake up in the middle of the night,” the doctor warned. 

Exposure to the blue light of smartphone screens can keep people awake, Siegel said.

WANT TO BE A MORNING PERSON? THESE 6 EXPERT TIPS MAY GET YOU THERE

“All of this is very bad for health,” he said. “It leads to heart disease, it increases your risk of stroke, it causes you to gain weight.”

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For young women in particular, several factors could be causing them to lose sleep, including the use of social media, which can “feed anxiety,” Siegel said.

Man on phone

A potential fix to ending the sleep-stress cycle is practicing “sleep hygiene,” said one doctor, which includes sleeping in a dark room away from your cellphone. (iStock)

A potential fix for the sleep-stress cycle is practicing “sleep hygiene,” Siegel suggested, which includes sleeping in a dark room away from your cell phone.

“I treat stress and sleeplessness as the same thing,” he said. “That’s why I don’t believe in sleeping pills … You’re just covering up the problem.”

He added, “I want to get at why you’re worried and what I can do about the worry.”

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Dr. Wendy Troxel, a Utah-based sleep expert and senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, told Fox News Digital in an interview that stress levels have remained “very high” since the COVID pandemic.

“[For] populations navigating multiple demands, including young people who are going to school or starting new jobs in this topsy-turvy world, it’s understandable that they are experiencing increases in stress, and that’s manifesting increases in sleep disturbances,” she said.

dr. wendy troxel headshot

Dr. Wendy Troxel, senior behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation, is also the author of “Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep” and scientific advisor for sleepfoundation.org. “As a culture,” she said, “we’ve become more aware of the importance of sleep over the past 10 years, which is a great thing.” (Diane Baldwin)

In some instances, Troxel pointed out, lack of sleep has been worn as a “badge of honor” to prove that people are busy or productive.

“But I think that that cultural misconception is starting to wane,” she said.

“The reality is, as a culture, we’ve just become more aware of the importance of sleep over the past 10 years, which is a great thing.”

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To break the “vicious cycle” of stress impacting sleep and vice versa, Troxel offered several tips, including maintaining a consistent sleep and wake schedule to ensure that stress doesn’t “invade your life.”

Incorporating a wind-down routine prior to bed can also bring down stress levels, the sleep expert noted.

These routines can involve relaxing activities such as deep breathing exercises, cuddling with a partner, journaling, doing gentle yoga or listening to music.

man meditates at night on his bed

Wind-down activities before bed can include deep breathing exercises, cuddling with a partner, journaling, doing gentle yoga or listening to music. (iStock)

“It’s just about finding something that you can ritualize and do on a nightly basis to set the stage … to put aside all the demands and stress of the day and prepare for winding down and [going] to sleep,” Troxel said.

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For people who wake up in the middle of the night due to stress, she advised getting out of bed, performing a wind-down activity and then returning to bed.

This technique, called stimulus control, prevents the brain from forming the habit of waking up at a certain time to ruminate on stressful thoughts.

“We all have occasional stress-related sleep disturbances, but if that starts happening night after night, it becomes habit-forming,” she said. 

“And that’s where we see more chronic problems like insomnia. So, if you see that happening, treat it as a habit that your brain is learning — and break it.”

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