Women achieve stronger heart health with less exercise than men: study

Women can exercise less frequently than men while still experiencing larger cardiovascular benefits

By Web Desk
February 28, 2024
A representational image for the depiction of the women's heart health. — Mather Hospital Northwell Health/File

Women benefit from exercise more than men do in terms of heart health, as per a Smidt Heart Institute study.

Studies conducted by the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai have revealed a disparity in exercise habits between males and females, according to SciTech Daily.


Women can exercise less frequently than males while still experiencing larger cardiovascular benefits, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

“Women have historically and statistically lagged behind men in engaging in meaningful exercise,” said Martha Gulati, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology in the Department of Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute.

“The beauty of this study is learning that women can get more out of each minute of moderate to vigorous activity than men do. It’s an incentivising notion that we hope women will take to heart.”

Researchers examined information from 412,413 adult Americans using the National Health Interview Survey database. Participants — of whom 55% were female —provided survey data on physical activity during their free time between 1997 and 2019. Researchers looked at gender-specific results for physical activity frequency, duration, intensity, and kind.

“For all adults engaging in any regular physical activity, compared to being inactive, mortality risk was expectedly lower,” said Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, the Erika J Glazer Chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Health and Population Science, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute, and senior author of the study. “Intriguingly, though, mortality risk was reduced by 24% in women and 15% in men.”

With all types of exercise and variables accounted for, Gulati says there’s power in recommendations based on the study’s findings. “Men get a maximal survival benefit when performing 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week, whereas women get the same benefit from 140 minutes per week,” Gulati said. “Nonetheless, women continue to get further benefits for up to 300 minutes a week.”