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Both Men and Women Need Exercise, but for Two Different Reasons


Couple on bikes outdoors smiling There’s no disputing the health benefits of exercise: it increases energy, improves heart health and keeps joints young. But when exploring the many other benefits of exercise, turns out men and women need exercise for two very different reasons.  
A recent study finds certain types of exercise can reverse age-related bone loss in middle-aged men, while another study discovers exercising five hours per week can halve the risk of breast cancer for women. It’s clear that workouts can make a significant difference in the health of both men and women.

Weight-Lifting and Jumping Exercises Improve Bone Density in Men

Women aren’t the only sex at risk for osteoporosis, as research shows almost 2 million men in the U.S. have this condition. In a study published in the journal Bone, scientists required a group of 38 men to do 60 to 120 minutes of either weightlifting or jumping exercises each week. After six months, X-ray scans of the men in both groups showed a significant increase in bone mass of the whole body and lumbar spine. Bone density of the hip increased only in the weightlifting group.

“These exercises could be prescribed to reverse bone loss associated with aging,” lead author Pam Hinton said. However, she explained that the exercises need to be targeted to make the weightlifting program effective. “Only the bone experiencing the mechanical load is going to get stronger, so we specifically chose exercises that would load the hip and the spine, which is why we had participants do squats, deadlifts, lunges and the overhead press.”

Hinton urges people to do the exercise as a preventive measure, even if they don’t know if they have bone mass issues. “Individuals don’t typically have to know they have heart disease, high blood pressure or prediabetes to start exercising — they do it as prevention,” she points out. “Similarly, individuals don’t have to know they have osteoporosis to start lifting weights. The interventions we studied are effective, safe and take 60-120 minutes per week to complete, which is feasible for most people. Also, the exercises can be done at home and require minimal exercise equipment, which adds to the ease of implementing and continuing these interventions.”

Forty-Five Minutes of Exercise per Day Halves Breast Cancer Risk

Research published in the journal JAMA Oncology found that women aged 50 and older need to exercise more than current government recommendations. The longer workouts are necessary to help protect against breast cancer. Fat cells in postmenopausal women are a rich source of the hormones that feed this malignancy; therefore, the reduction in fat through exercise reduces the risk.

Canadian scientists studying a group of 400 women asked half to exercise 30 minutes per day and half to exercise twice that amount. The women who doubled their exercise time had a greater decrease in body fat, including dangerous abdominal fat. Accumulation of fat in this area is a particular problem because it wraps around the organs as well as manufactures hormones and other substances that create a health risk. The results showed the women who exercised according to government guidelines, which is 30 minutes per day, cut their risk of breast cancer by 4.6 percent, but the women who exercised more cut their risk of the malignancy by 6.9 percent.

“Postmenopausal women may derive unique benefit from exercise because there is a tendency for weight gain and abdominal weight gain after the menopause,” said lead author Dr. Jessica Friedenreich. “Moreover, body fat, abdominal fat and adult weight gain increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.”

“Our findings provide a basis for encouraging postmenopausal women to exercise at least 300 minutes a week,” Friedenreich adds. “We know that increased weight and obesity are associated with a number of other cancers which include ones that affect men and younger women as well.”


The bottom line is that exercise has multiple effects that are beneficial for health. Prevention of osteoporosis and breast cancer are merely two of the array of advantages workouts offer. Furthermore, as found in the latter study, it’s a good idea for healthy people to exceed government recommendations for daily exercise.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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