Physiologic considerations for exercise performance in women

Nisha Charkoudian, Michael J. Joyner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Women exhibit several anatomic and physiologic characteristics that distinguish their responses to exercise from those of men. Women are smaller than men, have less muscle mass, and more fat mass for a given body size. Blood volume, stroke volume, and cardiac output are all lower in women than in men. These and other factors contribute to lower maximal aerobic power (even for similar training status) in women. The reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, can influence ventilation, substrate metabolism, and thermoregulation during exercise. Women have a greater tendency for EIAH, which can limit VO2max as well as submaximal exercise performance at higher intensities. Women tend to use a greater percentage of fats during exercise, but also rely on CHOs. Thermoregulatory control is altered significantly over the course of the menstrual cycle by fluctuations in circulating levels of progesterone and estrogen. It is important for women to include regular exercise in their daily routines, particularly because regular physical activity has been implicated in the prevention of osteoporosis, breast cancer, heart disease, and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-255
Number of pages9
JournalClinics in Chest Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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