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Gender Gap in Physical Activity Research

Experts note need for more insight.

Man and woman on seesaw to show inequity and gender gap

Researchers want to draw attention to the gender gap in exercise studies and the need for a more complete understanding of gender-specific physiology, the role of sex-related hormones, metabolic differences and more, in a research topic editorial in Frontiers in Physiology (2022; doi:10.3389/fphys.2022.988839).  

In particular, women are underrepresented.

For example, during incremental physical exercise, women experience a greater cost of breathing reflected by greater deoxygenation of respiratory muscles, whereas men have a higher peripheral load, indicating greater deoxygenation of locomotor muscles. Other studies reveal that in long-term endurance exercise, women perform similarly or slightly better than men; however, in quick bursts with great power they do not, suggesting gender differences in metabolism.

More investigation is essential to understand the gender-based mechanisms that explain these differences.

See also: Gender Equity in Fitness: Are We There Yet?

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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