All Men (and Women) Were Created Equal

I f men and women are essentially equal, can they take up the same sports? Can they participate in the same exercise regimens? Can they fill in their leisure hours with the same recreational activities?

They can, and they should. Women are taking up weight training, to name one example. Women are learning that bodily strength need not necessarily mean bulging biceps and triceps, and that they can be strong and healthy as a result of exercise and athletic endeavor—while also looking—and feeling—more graceful and attractive.

Increasingly, women are taking up exercise programs; indeed, many more women than men of comparable ages are going into sports activities. And, they are developing the exercise and sports-recreation programs that best suit their temperament and tastes. Jogging is only one of many possible answers.

There are some physiological differences between men and women that are of special relevance in a recreational or fitness program. For example, women are more flexible than men at all ages. Also, women normally carry a somewhat greater percentage of fat than men. For that reason, among others, women do not so readily develop the muscle bulges that male weight lifters have.

Women have heart rates that are five to ten beats per minute faster than those for men. This finding is interesting in view of the fact that before puberty girls and boys do not differ substantially in terms of maximum oxygen consumption. It prompts the question of whether or not women's heart rates are culturally conditioned. Are they more rapid than those of men because of the traditions that have long forced different patterns of exercise and other behavior for girls and women? That question has not yet been answered.

Some other differences may be mentioned. The working capacity of the average woman in the postpuberty years has been found to be about 85 percent of that of the average man of comparable age. That effect comes about because of the woman's smaller heart muscle size and strength capacity. Thus women generally find that while exercising their pulse rates rise more rapidly and to higher levels than those of men.

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