Women have more stamina than men, according to a scientific study.
The greater staying power of females means they can beat men in gruelling ultra-marathons – extreme running and cycling events that can last days.
Although males are typically bigger and more powerful than females, new research has found that women have a greater power of endurance.
A man’s strength decreased 15 per cent more than it did for a woman after repeating an exercise 200 times, the study found.
It adds to a growing body of evidence that women are better at endurance events.
Women once ‘too weak’ for marathons
Women were once thought to be too weak to be allowed to compete in marathons.
The first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer, only did so in 1967 – and had to disguise herself as a man.
Women only competed in the marathon at the Olympics from 1984 onwards.
Explaining why women were barred from marathons, Kathrine Schwitzer said that it was thought that marathons were ‘dangerous, de-sexing and de-feminising for a woman.’
But since then, women have even beaten men in extreme endurance events.
Last year American cyclist Lael Wilcox became the first woman to win the Trans Am, a 4,300-mile race from Oregon to Virginia, which took her just over 18 days as she trounced male riders.
It was followed by women runners taking five outright victories in ‘ultra marathons’ across the US, with 42 year old Caroline Boller setting a new course record at the Brazos Bend 50 mile trail race in Texas.
Now Brian Dalton, professor of neurophysiology at the University of British Columbia, Canada, has revealed women are considerably less exhausted after natural, dynamic muscle exercises than men of similar age and athletic ability.
He tested the theory out by asking study participants to do calf raises and discovered a dramatic gender advantage – for the women.
Power recordings from the males fell by 15 per cent more than their female counterparts, after 200 repetitions.
Professor said: ‘The answer is pretty definitive: women can outlast men by a wide margin.’
Both sexes performed equally well at the beginning of the test – but fatigue set in earlier for the men, he explained.
Professor Dalton said: ‘When we extend the paradigm to a large number of contractions, like 200, that is when we start to see differences.;
Nine women and eight men were hooked up to dynamometers to measure speed, power and torque during the exercises.
Participants were asked to flex their foot against a suite of sensors as quickly as they could.
The speed, power and torque of their movements and electrical activity of their muscles was then captured and recorded over time.
He said: ‘We chose to measure foot movements because it makes use of calf muscles on the back of the leg, which are essential for practical, everyday tasks like standing and walking.
‘What we found is that males were faster and more powerful at first but became more fatigued much faster than females.’
Greater muscle endurance
While only one isolated muscle group was studied, Professor Dalton says he would expect similar results for others.
He said that while there was not a standardised ‘ultra-marathon’ distance, ‘We know from previous research that for events like ultra-trail running, males may complete them faster but females are considerably less tired by the end.
‘If ever an ultra-ultra-marathon is developed, women may well dominate in that arena.’
Previous studies on isometric contractions – where muscles and joints don’t move – have already shown women have greater muscle endurance.
But the latest findings published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism show women can outlast men in dynamic exercises as well.
Prof Dalton said: ‘Women have greater endurance than the men.
‘So even though they can’t hit the same maximum capacity for strength or power, they are able to perform a task much longer.’