Think men are naturally better athletes than women? University of Waterloo researchers want you to think again.
A new study has found that during aerobic workouts, women consistently begin to process oxygen faster than men do.
The study focused on something called “oxygen uptake,” which has long been considered a key way to measure aerobic fitness and endurance. Those who have a fast oxygen uptake are better at transporting oxygen through their blood to their muscles than those with slow uptake.
The researchers had 18 young men and women of similar age, weight, and fitness levels perform moderate workouts on a treadmill. They then recorded how long it took for the volunteers’ hearts, blood vessels and muscles to transport extra oxygen inhaled during the workout.
They found that men adjusted in about 42 seconds, while the women adjusted 30 per cent faster, in just 30 seconds.
Richard Hughson, a research chair at the Schlegel University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging who worked on the study, says the study’s findings upend the perception that men are more naturally fit than women.
“We found that women’s muscles extract oxygen from the blood faster, which, scientifically speaking, indicates a superior aerobic system,” Hughson said in a statement.
While men tend to have higher fitness peaks than women, the study’s lead author, Thomas Beltrame, says his study shows women demonstrate more aerobic fitness ability than men at the same level.
The study was published in the September issue of the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.