Wednesday, March 2, 2011
How men and women exercise differently
Men and women appear to approach weight loss and exercise from a different mind-set says the chief scientist for Weight Watchers, Karen Miller-Kovach.
For starters, a much higher percentage of the men surveyed believe that exercise is enough to slim down, whereas the women tend to embrace a smarter combination of eating healthier and moving more. "You rarely hear guys say, 'I'm going on a diet.' Instead it's, 'I need to hit the gym,' " Miller-Kovach notes. (That may also explain why men make up just 10 percent of Weight Watchers' membership.)
But the Weight Watchers surveys show men top women when it comes to actually enjoying exercise. "That doesn't mean women don't know they need to be physically active or don't do it," Miller-Kovach says. But for guys, "to sweat is a badge of honor."
Then, there's the approach: Women are likely to take small steps toward a goal while men are quick to make sweeping changes, according to the research. "It's the Hundred Years' War versus the Battle of Normandy," Miller-Kovach says. And where we choose to have that fight also differs. For men, it's the weight room. For women, it's anywhere else.
These are all generalizations, and, of course, there are plenty of outliers for both sexes. (Weight Watchers' research is proprietary, so exact figures are not available.) But you can witness these opposing strategies - and their accompanying weaknesses - if you look around almost any gym. Women clump by the cardio machines, regularly reading magazines and talking, thus lessening the effectiveness of their workouts. Men congregate around the largest of weights, which they proceed to pick up even if that requires heinous form.
As for Weight Watchers' findings about enjoyment and exercise, Miller-Kovach suspects that has to do with the typical American upbringing. As kids, boys are weaned on such sports as football, soccer, baseball and basketball. "But women are more likely to have been raised in environments where activity wasn't a part of their lives," she says. When you don't have those positive associations from childhood to bolster your interest in staying active, the fun factor plummets.
Source: By Vicky Hallett
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, March 1, 2011; 11:59 AM