Female Muscle.Com reported on April 27th, Joanna Thomas had passed away. The cause of death has not been confirmed. She had mentioned that was in the process of getting her osteoarthritis treated and was planning surgery. This is a very lugubrious loss for the female bodybuilding community. Joanna was best remembered appearing in the documentary Super Size She for the TLC Channel. TV viewers go a glimpse into the world of the sport showing her triumphs and downs. Joanna was the youngest athlete to win a pro card at the age of 21. She was born in 1976 in the UK. Joanna graduated Camborne Science and International Academy in 1993. As a young woman of 14, she became interested in bodybuilding. This is no surprise considering her sister Nicola Shaw was also a bodybuilder. Her older sister may have been an inspiration to get involved. Joanna had asthma, which made physical activity difficult. However, looking at the women in fitness magazines gave her motivation. Around age 15, Joanna became serious about her fitness passion. Originally only 107 lbs her maximum gain was 134 lbs in competition. She won the British Championships in 1998 becoming professional. Her method was to take time off and make adjustments to her physique. Joanna won the 2001 Jan Tana Classic and would reach the Ms.Olympia stage. She did not place high, but this was the Lenda Murray and Iris Kyle era. Competition was intense. During the years of 2000 to 2007 she settled in the US to focus on her bodybuilding career. Joanna did have plans to make a return, but they it was not set into motion. Moving back to the UK, she did have some level of fame based off the TLC documentary. It was sold to 30 countries giving the sport more exposure. New fans would ask her for autographs. This was also the case when she was still in the US. That one TV appearance did much to challenge prejudice about the athletes and the negativity directed at them. Thomas’ contributions will not be forgotten.
The human body as it ages goes through many biological and physical changes. The human life cycle sees growth of the body, the process of senescence, and eventually death. Exercising and having a healthy diet has been proven to prevent some medical issues that are related to longer life span. Seeing as anatomy, physiology, and biology are complex subjects discussing life it is simple to see why there is a misunderstanding of the human body. Women’s bodies are very misunderstood. One myth is that women do not have muscle. This is not anatomically correct. Women do have muscle. The body requires it for movement. Another falsehood is that the female body is not equipped for physical activity. Women can build strength through exercise and a consistent strength training regimen. When girls grow they do experience a level of muscular growth. The reason it may not be as noticeable is that the total amount in boys is far greater in comparison. Girls grow faster, however boys are slower to achieve full adult growth. Sex hormones also influence physical strength levels as well as genes. Weight training can be beneficial to teenage girls. This can be beneficial to general musculoskeletal health.
Children do not have the same strength level as full grown adults. Their bodies are still growing. The skeleton and muscles are developing. These organ systems change dramatically with puberty. Contrary to popular belief boys are not stronger than girls. Between birth to age 13, boys and girls are equal in physical strength. Body composition is not that different either. This is why it seems pointless to give girls a lower standard of physical education. Separating boys and girls on sports teams would also be unnecessary if physiological difference is not a factor. Sexual size dimorphism becomes noticeable with the increase in sex hormones and growth hormones in the human body. At first girls may grow faster than boys. The Tanner scale describes the physical changes that occur when a child matures into adulthood. This consist of both primary and secondary sex characteristics. This is the point where physical and biological differences become more pronounced. Puberty can occur at different times depending on the person. The Tanner scale just tells the average age. Only precocious or delayed puberty are considered medical conditions. Changes can start as early as nine or twelve. Girls do see increased size in the skeleton and muscle fibers. Muscle fibers thicken in girls. Boys see a higher level of muscle mass increase related to the increase in testosterone. Tanner stage 4 sees male muscles get bigger and denser.
Girls see a change in body composition. Muscle development for women slows by age sixteen, while boys continue growth in Tanner stage 5. The process is slower in terms of bone and muscle growth. At the end men will have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Puberty does not increase a woman’s physical fitness capacity. However knowing the differences can contribute to making a training program for girls and women who are serious athletes. ACL tears are a serious concern as well as other injuries. Weight training can be helpful in preventing them. The upper body will be the hardest area for women to increase strength. Overall, it will be difficult for women to reach a higher fitness level, but it can be done. Consistent training, diet, and rest will induce muscular hypertrophy. A question remains about children and weight training. There is not enough studies to say that it unsafe or safe for children. What is advised Hannah Wahling is to wait for children to do it past the age of nine. The idea is to wait for the child to reach adolescence so the muscles and bone mature on their own. There is no evidence that lifting as child will stunt growth. The only concern is that a child could easily hurt themselves moving heavy weights. Teens and children need adult supervision, if they are to embark on a training program.
Training programs should not limit women. Young girls have the most to benefit from becoming experienced in physical literacy. Although as Wahing explains many young girls may not want to increase muscle bulk, rather tone. These two terms are basically the same. When lifting weights one is building muscle. There is no such thing as bulky or tone muscle in terms of histology. These terms have more relevance to description of body image. Even when used in that context, it can be confusing.
Such terms are more so general descriptions of aesthetics. Women should not be concerned about getting muscular. Any form of exercise can be effective for anyone regardless of sex. The biggest factors are consistency, diet, and correct nutrition. The training advice given by Hannah Wahling can be debated. She states “instead of free weight exercises, consider strength training classes such as Pilates that focus on muscle toning as well as elongation, flexibility and balance. ” Pilates can be a fun and calorie burning exercise. Yet, it may not be enough to ensure enough protection of the musculoskeletal system. The use of free weights should be an important part of a training program. Targeting muscle groups as Wahling expresses is a sound method. Resting is important to seeing progress and recovery for exercise. The emphasis on Pilates is not the best method for inducing muscular hypertrophy. Flexibility and balance is important , but adding muscle and bone mass has health benefits. Bone and muscle mass decrease with age. The use of free weights could prevent osteoporosis and sacropenia. Having children active can mean a healthier life later on.
The approach to developing a training program should take into account women’s anatomy. Girls should not have a lower level of physical education standards, considering the changes of puberty have not effected their bodies. Fat mass and pelvic size has not changed effecting physical fitness capacity. The heart and lungs are smaller in adult women, but in boys and girls it does not exist. Designing a special girls only physical education course would seem pointless. Keeping them off boys sports teams would be the same way, seeing as boys do not have greater strength yet. The first stage of puberty with girls is thelarche , which is the beginning of breast development. Public hair later develops. When menarche occurs girls have their first period. The menstrual cycle means women have to adjust their training. If body fat gets too low, then periods could be missed. When this happens frequently amenorrhea may be a problem for a female athlete.
Teenage girls can benefit from lifting weights just like teenage boys. The basic rule of progressive overload is to start with a lower weight. When it is easier to lift the weight increase volume to challenge the muscle. One should not start off with the heaviest weight first. Training should also be mindful of preventing injuries. Ligaments should be protected, especially seeing as female athletes have a higher rate of Anterior cruiciate ligament injuries. Diet and nutrition should also be taken into consideration. Seeing as estrogen and progesterone allow for more fat on the female body, food will be metabolized differently. Eating less would be sabotaging muscular gain. Consumption must be adjusted in relation to total activity level. More girls are participating in sports so it is pivotal that coaches have an understanding of the female body. Teenage girls who are recreational lifters or doing it for health maintenance should seek out the proper adult supervision.
Women and girls do have a muscular system. It is important that it is exercised. the problem is that sports, fitness, and exercise are still seen as an activity for men or boys. With time, this can change. There is a positive benefit to women gaining physical literacy. Body image confidence comes from what the body can do, rather than how it looks. Too many young girls and teen girls are having self-esteem issue regarding their appearance. At the most extreme this can result in eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia. The psychological benefit from physical activity could prevent this. Besides mental health, people are living much longer than ever. Heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are possible threats that could strike in old age. By getting children to love exercise and physical activity it can be enormously beneficial to public health. Girls have the potential to outlive boys. This means there is a need to ensure proper health habits. It also should be a goal in the future to increase male life expectancy and life span. The increase in childhood obesity shows the need for physical education and recess in public schools. Boys and girls do not have to be playing sports to maintain health. Walking or the simple act of playing can be just as good. Women and girls have muscles, they just need to be more active.
Training is important to athletic performance, but diet is essential. A study from Skidmore Collage showed that diet quality and have a major impact on sports performance. Exercise scientists found that consuming moderate amount protein throughout the day combine with multi-dimensional exercise regimen can increase physical fitness capacity among the most physically fit. This technique is called protein pacing. The term multi-dimensional exercise refers to resistance training, interval sprinting , stretching, and endurance exercise. The paper was peer reviewed and published by Nutrients and Growth Hormone and IGF-1 Research in 2017. The data shows there is more to learn about sports nutrition and diet. The method which exercise scientist advocates is called PRISE. The system he describes as eating the right food at a certain time and incorporating various exercises. He suggests that it could have wider uses such as improving health. Athletes and casual exercisers can benefit from this information. People who are also trying to maintain good health may have an effective means of doing so.
The subjects included 30 women and 20 men. This is actually unique in an exercise physiology study. Women outnumbered men as test subjects. These men and women were considered physically fit. The age demographic was diverse ranging from 30 to 65. The problem is their physical fitness was not specifically prior to the study. The exact physical fitness capacity of 50 subjects was not known prior to change in exercise stimuli. The only information on that was self reporting. The subjects stated that they exercised for 4 days a week, 45 minutes a session , and done so for at least three years. They did both weight training and aerobic exercise. Self reporting may not be as reliable. Assuming no one embellished or fabricated their training routine , it should be correct. Using the body mass index as an indicator of fitness is incorrect. The problem is that it does not account for the variation in somatotype. People of muscular builds could be classified as obese. Those with slimmer bodies could easily be classified as being under weight. Larger women may not be at a high body fat percentage to an degree which could be harmful, but still could be under the overweight classification. Measuring body fat would be more precise than using BMI.
These factors could have influenced or effected the outcome the experiment. The physical fitness capacity most likely varied among individuals in the group. What would be interesting to see is if this experiment was done on professional athletes. If a response to exercise stimuli happens to that group then it can be guaranteed that diet quality is pivotal. The subjects may not be as fit as their self reporting indicated, but it was close enough for the experiment.
The procedure involved dividing subjects into two random groups. Then the trial involved consuming the same amount of calories and using the multi-dimensional exercise method. This was done for a period of 12 weeks. The first group consumed the recommended protein intake combined with sports nutrition products. The second group’s diet consisted of antioxidant supplements and a higher amount of protein intake. Antioxidants are compounds that stop oxidation. During the process of oxidation, free radicals are produced which could gradually put strain on cells. Consumption of antioxidant rich foods can reduce the amount of oxidation in the human body. It was important to make sure the exercise regimen was identical to prevent distortion of results.
Both groups did witness an increase in physical fitness. The group that saw the most benefit was the one that was using antioxidant supplements and protein pacing. The improvement was in upper body power and endurance, core strength, as well as blood vessel health. This effected men and women differently. Men gained more aerobic power and flexibility. Women saw a vast improvement in muscular strength compared to their starting point. Other studies have suggested that Arciero’s experiment may be correct. If so this could radically change the way athletes train and how people improve health.
Protein pacing and using the PRISE system may be a way to improve or prevent heart related diseases. The manipulation of whey or whole food sources combined with the right exercise could protect the blood vessels of the body. Allegedly. there can be a reduction in blood glucose, insulin, and cholesterol levels. Heart disease and diabetes are becoming too common. Lack of exercise and unhealthy diets have become culprits. Fast food and sugar have become the staple of the Western diet. However, Obesity is not just regulated to the West. As more developing nations increase their standard of living access to different foods from around the world become easily available. Globalization has allowed fast food franchises to have an international presence. The result of this is the rise in weight among the world’s population and more chronic illness. The PRISE system may be a means to improve public health internationally. It should be assumed that one day average life expectancy will increase around the world. Encouraging exercise and healthy diets can improve public health and quality of life for senior citizens.
Paul Arciero has spent 30 years doing research into protein pacing and exercise. This could vastly improve the performance of athletes in the future. Women have more to benefit from this information. The difference in metabolism in relation to sex makes fitness more difficult. Seeing as women metabolize most of the food they consume into fat it becomes complicated for the female athlete to know what is the right amount of caloric intake. If the fitness regimen of PRISE is effective, women have a simple fitness plan they can utilize. One reason why some athletes may see erratic performance is due to the fact they are not getting proper nutrition. The citric acid cycle explains how the human body releases stored energy from proteins, fats, carbohydrates, ATP, and carbon dioxide. What this approach does is considers the factors of biology, exercise physiology, and nutrition to increase physical fitness. There is one aspect that can be debated. Stretching may not be a good idea before or after workouts. Some have thought it could make a person susceptible to injury. There is very little data to say whether stretching before or after training is harmful or necessary. There still remains more to learn about nutrition and its relation to exercise science.
The general public has a tendency to misinterpret science. When it comes to questions of biology and sex more misinformation is spread. Josh Teal makes the proclamation that a study found women are biologically stronger than men. This based on data collected in a report from Duke University. What the study did was collect information on life expectancy in relation to sex . What the study discovered was that women,even under periods of extreme turmoil still were able to live longer than their male counterparts. The University of Southern Denmark also conducted a study that looked at men and women’s life expectancy under famines, slavery, extreme conditions and epidemics. Once more women were able to outlive men. The Max Plank Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging did not make the proclamation women are biologically stronger than men. However, news articles either obfuscate or are erroneous in their presentation of the facts. Josh Teal has done this in his article for Unilad. Women have an advantage in terms of survival, rather than “biological strength.” It could be argued that the concept of biological strength does not exist. The proper term would be fitness meaning the ability for organisms to produce offspring and propagate their genes. Teal seems to confuse biological fitness with physical fitness, which are two different scientific concepts and terminologies. The only argument that could be made from Josh Teal’s position is that women have more duration based strength. Women may not be as physically strong, but can be durable in terms of longer life expectancy and better health condition. The gap between men and women in life expectancy can be related also to infant mortality. Baby boys may have a harder time reaching adulthood compared to girls. Life expectancy and total life span are not all biologically based. environment also has an impact on human survival. The report even stated that ” our findings also indicate that female advantage differs across environments and is modulated by social factors.”
Biology is not destiny, when there is a clear impact from environment and other factors. Biology certainly is not static and can change as evolution has demonstrated in the animal kingdom. Women’s survival advantage the report acknowledges does have biological underpinnings. Women no matter which part of the globe continue to outlive men. However, it should be remembered that data may not be as reliable from the ancient past to Middle Ages, because there could be gaps in record keeping. If women have a biological trait for extended life, then it should also appear in ancient history and during the millions of years of human evolution. The report also found that their was an exception with one slave population they was studied in which women did not have a reduced mortality risk. The Guardian also reported the findings, but presented them in a most ludicrous title : “Scientist Confirm What Women Already Knew Men Are the Weaker Sex .” The term weaker sex has been used against women to indicate biological inferiority. Women obviously are not biological or physical inferiors. The concept of biological superiority is not based in scientific fact. It implies that evolution has a teleological path and that has a final perfect biological morphology stage. Calling men the weaker sex in The Guardian article is ludicrous, because their is no such thing as a superior or inferior sex.
Kate Hodal’s interpretation like Josh Teal reaches the wrong conclusion. Biological strength does not hold to the test of the scientific method. If that were so, then would the longest living animals be biologically stronger than humans? There are animals that outlive humans by large margins in terms of total life span. Ocean Quahogs can reach up to 400 years old. The world ‘s oldest recorded tortoise known as Johnathan is estimated to be 187 years old. Bowhead whales can reach the age of 200 years. Scientists would not call these animals biological stronger. It seems that the term biology is used often, but few actually understand its meaning. The field of study is vast which encompasses numerous disciplines and applied sciences. Comprehending the definition of biology can elucidate why Josh Teal and Kate Hodal position is not accurate.
Biology is the study of life and its functions. That is a broad and immense task when doing a full examination of the numerous organism and ecosystems that are on the Earth. Biology has major branches that include microbiology, taxonomy, ecology, ethology, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, cytology, and evolutionary biology. Microbiology investigate microorganisms too small to see with human eyes. Bacteria, viruses, or tardigrades are organisms that are of interest to a microbiologist. Taxonomy involves the classification of animals and their relation to one another. This is particularly difficult because new species can be discovered and more could exist in the universe. Astrobiology ponders what possible life forms could exist in outer space. Ecology involves studying how organisms interact with their natural habitat. Human beings are the only organisms that can alter their environment to such a radical degree. Ethology focuses on animal behavior. Jane Goodall work and direct observation on chimpanzee behavior is an example of ethology. Genetics explores heredity, inheritance and the impact of genes on a life forms. Biochemistry takes the field of chemistry and applies to the study of compounds. Lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins function can be understood through biochemistry. Physiology explains the functions and mechanisms of an organism. This should not be confused with anatomy, which focuses on structure. Both anatomy and physiology have a multitude of applications to medicine, surgery, and sports science.
Cytology studies the cells of living organisms. Cell biology reveals that cells are the building blocks of life. Cell biology can also be extended to histology, which looks at the tissues of organisms. There is considerable debate on what should be considered living. Biologists have debated whether or not a virus is considered alive. A virus is a nucleic molecule in a protein coat and can only multiply in cells of a host. Evolutionary biology seeks to explain why there is so much diversity of life. The world has so many plants and animals which zoology as well as botany seek to describe. Natural selection and gradual changes over a period of time are theories that suggest many organisms once had a common genetic ancestor for which they branched off. Saying one sex is “biologically stronger” is not scientifically valid. It also reveals that some have a difficulty distinguishing two different terms of biological fitness and physical fitness.
Biological fitness and physical fitness are not the same. Josh Teal confuses the two. Biological fitness describes how successful an organism at producing offspring and promoting a certain genotype. Physical fitness refers to the ability to perform certain exercise under fatigue. A stronger and faster person can be physically fit, but if they do not leave offspring in terms of biological fitness they are not successful. The term survival of the fittest is the most misunderstood term in evolution. Charles Darwin did not coin the term, it was Hebert Spencer. The image of violent struggles or vicious competition are associated with the animal kingdom, yet organisms are more complicated in terms of behavior. Animals exhibit cooperation, competitiveness, and social organization. Survival of the fittest does not mean that a “superior” organism has a greater chance for survival. There are animals that were bigger and stronger, but when extinct. The dinosaurs were the largest animals that ever walked the Earth. They could not survive the dramatic change in environment that occurred with a meteor strike and perished.
The assumption is that the physically strong would be able to survive longer. The weakest could have high biological fitness if they are able to produce enough healthy offspring.
The smaller mammals would emerge and eventually become the dominant force on land. Australopithicines would appear and gradually humanity would branch off into its own species. Sex selection also plays a role in biological fitness. Organisms have a certain method of selecting mates. Microorganisms in comparison would have high biological fitness. Bacteria can multiply fast, but does not contain strength or intelligence comparable to a human being. Insects can reproduce more offspring than people. Humans may want to think of themselves as a superior species, but it too could be subject to mass extinct. Some have even speculated it will come by its own doing.
Environment can have a huge role in life expectancy. The reason men die earlier is that they take more risks, get into dangerous situations, and expected to sacrifice themselves for a greater good. The culture of expendable males has not disappeared and it is something women will never have to endure. The selective service remains proof of that. Women will most probably never have to register for the selective service. Males are represented more in dangerous occupations such as firefighting, law enforcement, construction, and the military. Modern technology has reduced the cases of higher fatalities in the past, but risk has not been completely eliminated. From another perspective of health men are put under more stress to be providers and leaders of society. At the same time they are not allowed to express emotions in a healthy way, which could manifest in mental health disorder or chronic illness. Men do not have it so simple when viewed from this perspective. Simply living in poverty or horrible conditions can kill a person. The enslaved in Trinidad had low life expectancy, because of horrible working conditions and no healthcare. The free peoples who emigrated to Liberia did not live long due to not having immunity to diseases present in the country. Physical and mental abuse can destroy a person. Survival is not linked solely to one’s genes; environment is an important factor. The female enslaved in Trinidad had shorter life expectancy due to environment. This throws off the other recorded data. Women may just live longer because they do not do anything dangerous and avoid risk.
It is obvious that there is a difference in durational and physical strength between the sexes. Even though that data is from the past, male and female life span have a gap. There are biological factors for why this is. Women produce offspring, so from a point of survival it would only make sense that they evolved to live longer. The reason why men are on average are stronger was to fight other males for mates. This can be seen in other organisms which exhibit sexual dimorphism. Women did not need to fight over men to acquire a mate. Genetically the X chromosome may provide a benefit of protection. A harmful mutation on the x chromosome would not be a threat seeing as a woman has another. The Y chromosome does not provide that benefit. Oestrogen can enable protection of blood vessels. Sexual dimorphism is flexible. There can be men that outlive women and women who are stronger than men.
There is no way to account for individual health condition of every individual in the data. Collecting information on the enslaved in Trinidad would be the most difficult. Slave owners rarely cared about the health of their captives, just as long as they were productive. Preexisting conditions can effect both men and women, which would change life expectancy outcomes. This may be a factor that could have altered the data collection. The study also just took past sample from a few countries. The pattern could still remain, but there could be differences. Asia and Oceania were not represented in the sample set because it was not available for 1820 to 1882. What can be stated with certainty is that women on average have durational strength according to life expectancy and life span data.
The notion of a biologically stronger sex is also wrong,because it implies orthogenesis. This now discredited theory stated that organism evolve slowly in a teleological direction. Human evolution is not progressive; it functions more like a tree with multiple branches. The morphology of human beings can change depending on environment and genetics. That does not imply that there is a special purpose for it or a perfect final form. Nature has not intended a perfect form for humanity. Unfortunately, when the general public thinks of human biological evolution the March of Progress comes to mind. The image that appeared in Life Nature Library has since become ingrained in popular culture. Appearing in 1965 it shows humans evolving in a linear direction. The discovery of numerous primate species has made it more obsolete. Currently, it is thought that humanity emerged 200,000 earlier than previously thought.
New information and discovery of fossils is changing what biologists have though about evolution. Men and women are physically and biologically different, but their evolution is not that much different. men and women are not separate species. Science is still attempting to answer the question what makes us human.
The study does show that women have durational strength. It does not demonstrate biological strength. This as a concept cannot be measured. Making such claims of one sex being better than other is nothing more than a revived pseudoscience. The irony is that now their are claims saying women are superior. This pitiful attempt at humor is very telling : ” By the way, fellas, in case you get all angry and insecure, we’re talking biological strength.” There are plenty of women who have some brawn power, but they do not make men feel insecure. Some get much admiration. The method of this study was not incorrect. The challenge is collecting data and how reliable it is. The question is would the patter continue in the following centuries. There is always a risk that civilization could be destabilized by war, climate change, pandemics, and food shortages. This would dramatically reduce the global population. Human beings cannot control natural disasters,but they can create either positive or negative social conditions. Low quality healthcare systems, poverty, and violence are not created by accident. Inequality and oppression can form environments of poor health. Women higher survival rate during periods of turbulence may be based on avoiding danger and genetics for longevity.