His and Hers Fitness
When it comes to working out, men and women are from different planets
Mars vs. Venus Workouts continued...
True, men frequently show up in classes such as spinning or "boot
camp" workouts. But women dominate other classes, especially those that
touch on mind-body techniques.
"Men are more interested in just a workout," says Bryant. "Women
have a more holistic approach to fitness."
No matter what kind of workout they prefer, women generally work out less
than men, with most citing lack of time as a reason, according to Amy Eyler,
PhD, assistant professor of community health at Saint Louis University School
of Public Health. Eyler is the editor of a book on physical activity among
women, Environmental, Policy and Cultural Factors Related to Physical
Activity in a Diverse Sample of Women.
"Women are too busy taking care of others to take care of
themselves," Eyler says in a news release. "Their dedication to family
presents substantial time and logistical barriers to being physically
According to Peeke, women are "hardwired" to be caregivers:
"We'll take care of anything that comes within 100 feet of us, whether it
needs it or not."
Yet "it's important to fight for the right to take care of
yourself," Peeke says. She tells her patients that "the best caregiver
is a healthy caregiver."
The Physical Differences
Of course, the physical differences between men and women also affect how
they approach fitness.
"There is a difference between what men and women can do and should
do," says Margie Weiss, a personal trainer and group exercise director for
three Gold's Gyms in the Washington, D.C., area.
For example, women's pelvises tilt more than men, so they may need to do a
slightly different type of squat to protect their lower backs. This might mean
turning the feet outward a bit, standing with the legs slightly wider apart,
and not going down so low, Weiss says.
Because women have less muscle mass than men, they won't bulk up as much,
says Perez. But, he says, they should still use lighter weights than men to
avoid the injuries that come from "too much, too often."
As a rule, men's bodies tend to be less flexible, says Pilates instructor
Lisa Johnson of Brookline, Mass. But she believes that's less because of the
nature of their bodies than because they're less likely to include stretching
in their workouts.
Men also tend to have better upper body strength than women. "But that
is where their vanity lies, and they work harder to keep those areas of their
body better defined," Johnson observes.
Similarly, "women also tend to have better lower body strength, but I
think that has more to do with wanting to keep our tushies and legs in shape
than any physiological reason," Johnson says.