Athletic Differences Between Men & Women

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It's no secret that there are many differences between men and women and that the two sexes sometimes have difficulty understanding each other. These differences include mental, emotional and physical aspects. While certain physical differences between men and women are obvious, athletic differences can be more subtle. Both men and women can be world-class athletes, but differences in physiology make comparisons between athletes of different genders unfair.

Skull Thickness

  • One difference that plays a large role in combat sports, such as boxing and mixed martial arts, is the difference in skull thickness in men and women. In most cases, men's skulls are much thicker, and this enables men to sustain a greater amount of blunt force trauma, such as a punch or kick, to the head without being knocked out. Over time, frequent trauma can negatively affect men and women equally, but men's tolerance to force is considerably higher due to the thicker shield protecting the brain from damage.

Cardiovascular Function

  • A man's heart is approximately 80% larger than a woman's and pumps about 40% higher blood volume in the body than a woman's does. Men also have 11% more red blood cells and hemoglobin. This enables men's bodies to pump more oxygen to the muscles faster than women's, and this increases stamina. A well-conditioned man would therefore be able to compete in a strenuous activity for a longer period of time and with greater intensity than a well-conditioned woman. However, once the activity extends past the two-hour mark, such as a marathon, women tend to have more stamina because of a higher percentage of fat cells in the body that can be burned for energy.

Flexibility

  • Women are about 7% more flexible in their limbs and joints than men. Men have longer bones with greater density while women have a lower center of gravity. A women's weight is more centered around the hips and thighs, and all of this allows for greater mobility in most women's joints when compared to a man with similar athletic pedigree. This added flexibility also helps to make women more coordinated and less likely to injure themselves in track and field events involving jumps and hurdles.

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  • Photo Credit maratona image by jeffbeal from Fotolia.com
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