Women likely to see greater benefit from regular exercise than men

An exercise class on the Lido Deck of the MMS Noordam. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Women may see more benefits from regular exercise than men, according to a new study from the National Institute of Health. 

The study found that not only does regular exercise lower the risk of an early death or fatal heart event more for women than for men, but that women reach the maximum health benefit level from exercise quicker than men.

Researchers said women were found to meet an 18% reduced risk in early death or fatal heart event after exercising routinely for 140 minutes, or about 2.5 hours per week. Men were found to meet that same level after double the work at 300 minutes, or 5 hours a week. 

The authors said multiple factors, including variations in anatomy and physiology, may account for the differences in outcomes between the sexes.

For example, men often have increased lung capacity, larger hearts, more lean-body mass, and a greater proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers compared to women. As a result, women may use added respiratory, metabolic, and strength demands to conduct the same movement and in turn reap greater health rewards, the NIH said in a press release.

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Researchers also found a link between women experiencing greater reduced risks for death compared to men among all types of exercise. 

Scientists found that for moderate aerobic physical activity, the reduced risk for death plateaued for both men and women at 300 minutes, or five hours, per week. At this level of activity, women and men reduced their risk of premature death by 24% and 18% respectively.

The study looked at data from more than 400,000 U.S. adults ages 27-61 over a period of two decades. 

This story was reported from Detroit.