By Dr. Anthony Policastro

A new study on exercise was published in February in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It looked at exercise levels in men and women and compared them to each other.

The usual recommended amount of weekly exercise is 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week. Women who followed that recommendation were 24 percent less likely to die from any cause compared to women who did not exercise.

However, for men the decrease was only 15 percent for those who did 150 minutes a week than those who did not exercise.

Thus if both women and men follow the usual recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, women fared better than men.

 Those number were true for death from all causes. Cardiovascular deaths showed an even bigger discrepancy. Women who exercised 150 minutes a week had a 36 percent decrease in death from heart attacks and strokes. Men on the other hand had only had a 14 percent lower risk of heart attack or stroke.

Another thing the study looked at was exercise for more than the recommended 150 minutes. Men who increased the time of exercise to five hours decreased their likelihood of death from all causes to 18 percent (as compared to the 15 percent for 150 minutes). Women were able to get the same decrease with only 140 minutes of exercise per week.

They also looked at exercises like muscle strengthening from things like lifting weight. They used one session per week as the baseline. Again the results favored women. Those who did muscle strengthening session once a week had a 30 percent decrease of death from cardiovascular problems. That was associated with an associated decrease in death from any cause by 19 percent.

Again for men the numbers were lower. The muscle strengthening exercise only decreased death by cardiovascular disease by 11 percent. It also decreased death from any cause by the same 11 percent.

The numbers can get pretty confusing. The bottom line is that there is clearly a benefit to doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. The benefit is higher for deaths from heart attack or stroke. However, there is also a benefit for death from all causes. There is also a benefit from adding muscle strengthening exercises once per week.

It just so happens that the benefit is better in women than it is for men for the same amount of exercise. It also appears that that increasing the amount of time of exercise increases the benefit. It is never too late to start.