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Women more resilient to extreme physical activity than previously reported

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Women that underwent extreme physical training and completed a transantarctic expedition did not show any more negative health effects than would be expected in men, according to a study presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Glasgow. The study is the first to suggest that women are not more susceptible to the negative effects of physical exertion and, that with appropriate training and preparation, can be as resilient as men in undertaking arduous physical activity.

It has been reported that the female reproductive system and stress responses are more sensitive to the negative effects of extreme physical activity. There is some evidence that arduous physical activity can suppress normal female reproductive hormone activity, impair bone strength and elevate stress hormone levels to a greater extent than in men. However, the reasons underlying these reported gender differences in response to extreme endurance exercise remain poorly understood.

Dr Robert Gifford and colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Centre for Defence examined the effects of extreme exercise on hormone levels and the health of six women participating in the first all-female transantarctic expedition (www.icemaiden.com). The researchers monitored several markers of their health...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.