Gender Gap: Women Win on Endurance?
performing certain isometric exercises, the endurance of women is
almost twice that of men performing the same exercises, at the same
percent of maximum strength, a new study has found.
The study by
Dr. Sandra Hunter, a postdoctoral research associate in the University
of Colorado (Boulder) Department of Kinesiology and Applied
Physiology's Neural Control of Movement Laboratory, aimed to compare
the endurance times — or fatigability — of men and women
for two types of low-force exercises using the elbow flexor muscles.
Eight men and
eight women were asked to perform two isometric fatiguing contractions
on separate days. In one task, the participants were asked to hold
their arm in a rigid position (within a restraint) for as long as
possible. In the second task, a weight bag was added to the wrist, and
the individuals once again were asked to hold their arm in the same
position for as long as possible.
Women outlasted men by an average of 75 percent for both tasks.
the study showed the reason the women had longer endurance times was
not due to differences in the motivation levels between men and women,
or within the nervous system, but due to differences within the muscle.
weaker subjects had longer endurance times, and women were weaker than
men, the specific reason for the gender difference in endurance time
may be an interaction between the muscle strength and the blood flow
within the muscle, Hunter suggested. Other possible reasons may include
the type of muscle fibers of men and women, or even the differences
between men and women in hormones, such as estrogen, she explained.
discussed the research findings during the American Physiological
Society's intersociety meeting, "The Integrative Biology of Exercise,"
in Portland, Maine.