The lazy sex Women get half as much daily exercise as men
Women putting themselves at greater risk of depression and metabolic syndrome, warn experts
08:45 GMT, 11 April 2012
It's a study sure to ruffle feathers in many a household – researchers have found women are far less likely to exercise for 30 minutes every day than men.
A team from Oregon State University analysed the fitness regimes of a wide-ranging sample of participants.
They found while men got an average 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day, women only achieved 18 minutes.
Less active Women exercised an average 18 minutes a day compared to 30 minutes for men in a recent study
The authors said this put women at a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome – a risky and increasingly prevalent condition related to obesity.
Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors – including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and extra weight around the middle part of the body – which occur together and increase the risk for coronary disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
The researchers initially were interested in the correlation between physical activity, depression and metabolic syndrome and ended up finding a gender difference.
Study co-author Paul Loprinzi, said: 'Those who get at least 30 minutes of
exercise a day are less likely to be depressed, less likely to have high
cholesterol and less likely to have metabolic syndrome.'
Mr Loprinzi and Bradley Cardinal outfitted 1,000 participants with accelerometers that measured their daily activity. They said this was unique as it used an 'objective' measure of physical activity rather than relying on surveys.
In their study, slightly more than one in three women had metabolic syndrome, and one in five had symptoms of depression.
'It's pretty striking what happens to you if you don't meet that 30 minutes a day of activity,' Mr Cardinal said.
'Women in our sample had better health behavior – they were much less likely to smoke for instance, but the lack of activity still puts them at risk.'
Mr Cardinal said depression puts people at more risk of abdominal fat and insulin resistance, and both are risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
'The key message here is to get that 30 minutes of exercise every day because it reduces a great deal of risk factors,' he said.
While their study does not address why women were not getting enough exercise, the authors said research shows that physical activity patterns often begin in childhood.
'Research has shown that around ages 5 or 6 these patterns begin,' Mr Cardinal said.
'Parents tend to be more concerned with the safety of girls, and have more restrictive practices around outdoor time and playtime than with boys.'
Mr Loprinzi said this pattern tends to continue into adulthood, and that overall confidence may be a factor.
'Some evidence indicates that women, compared to men, have less confidence in their ability to overcome their exercise-related barriers,' he said.
He added that women also often cite a lack of time to exercise due to child-rearing.