It's an age-old feminist debate: Can women perform just as well as men, if not better? When it comes to research in exercise tolerance, experts actually say no. Although individually women may outperform their male counterparts in some activities, overall, women are not built to exert themselves as much as men.
One reason is due to the hormone oestrogen, which can inhibit proteins that fuel the body during intense exercise. That's why women's performance may be better at certain times of the month than others. Men have a constant supply of the energy-producing testosterone, which provides them with strength and endurance.
Women also have smaller lungs than men, and therefore a smaller lung capacity. During intense exercise, women need to breathe more frequently. This causes them to perceive their exertion as more difficult than that of men, even if women are doing the same amount of work.
Instead of carbo-loading to prepare for intense exertion, women's bodies are geared to rely more on fat stores than energy from carbohydrates. When it comes to distance running, women excel, and the reason for that is the greater ability to consume energy from fat, which burns longer than sugars.
A recent study suggests that women benefit most from weights and interval training. In order to maintain optimum fitness, women need to mix up the activity more frequently than do men. This means doing everything from running and biking, to swimming, dancing and yoga, weight training, and kickboxing to kung fu. Variety is the spice of life, and most important is staying fit, for both men AND women. Get a move on!