Women Naturally More Fit Than Men According To Study

Women Fitter Than Men

The title seems to be some what of a hyperbole. The study conducted revealed that women process exactly 30% more oxygen more efficiently compared to their male counterparts. This has been suspected for sometime,but it looks like it has finally been confirmed. Oxygen uptake is only one element of physical fitness. Women can obviously reach a certain physical fitness level through training and diet. However, men have higher absolute peak physical fitness. This includes attributes such as muscular strength and speed. Women it seems have more muscular endurance as revealed by another study produced this year. The University of Waterloo in Ontario conducted a study involving 18 subjects. All these  men and women were active. They performed treadmill exercise and researchers concluded women process oxygen more quickly. Thus it may seem that women have more efficient in terms aerobic fitness. This does challenge the conventional belief that the male body is just naturally more athletic compared to women’s bodies. Women do have athletic advantages and biological sex does not seem to be a limitation.

        Peak physical fitness refers to how strong, fast, and how much endurance  an athlete can get through exercise and diet.Once an athlete reaches their physical peak, they can no longer improve any further. Men have more muscular strength even when the training regimen is the same. The muscle cells do not differ between men and women. The strength difference is related to several factors . Body size is a factor and on average men are larger. Males have denser bones including larger tendons and ligaments. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association women can produce two thirds the muscular force of a man. This is an estimate of 66% and the remaining percentage has to do with the upper body. Men have more upper body strength.

Women are closer to men in the lower body. Considering the histology of the muscle is similar for men and women, they can gain strength at the same rate through strength training. To do so a person must train to their threshold using progressive overload. Men have higher absolute strength based on endocrinology and body composition. Men have a greater amount of type II muscle fibers and higher amount of testosterone that aid in protein synthesis. Women have a higher estrogen level allowing for more fat.  These biological and physiological differences are not entirely closed by training. What stops women from have equal muscular strength after a training regimen is the difference in skeletal size, body composition, and difference in hormones.

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Measuring hand grip strength is not as accurate for determining strength. weightlifting records would be more precise.

 Relative to absolute strength levels a female athlete could be strong as or stronger than the average man. It is rare that women could reach the same level of an equally trained man. However, there can be overlap although very small. Running speed and aerobic fitness is important to sports. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which will effect running speed. This means a woman’s vo2 max is lower in comparison. Lower hemoglobin levels mean less oxygen being transported. Oxygen is essential for the tissues of the body.

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Hand grip strength data from a experiment. The female athletes  are located in the above 50 percentile. Males reached 100 and above.

Women may have more muscular endurance. During exercise they seem less prone to fatigue. It seems in various studies women were able to contract muscle groups over long periods of time. Men still had more strength, but could not keep up with the contract muscle groups as long as women in exercise physiology studies. The title is incorrect saying women are fitter than men. A more accurate title would be women have a physical fitness advantage in oxygen use.

       The researchers conducted their experiment following the regular procedure of the scientific method. The 18 subjects did a treadmill test. Their heart rates were monitored as well as oxygen content in  their tissues. What was also studied was their oxygen levels between their veins and arteries. The total tests were four in total and were moderate intensity. There are some questions that must be asked. Were these subjects longtime or novice athletes or casual exercisers? This can make a difference in results. There obviously is a difference in physical fitness levels between the average person, moderate exerciser, and the professional athlete.

If this study wanted to be very precise it would have to have a larger sample size. This sample size would have to include those moderate exercisers, average people, and professional athletes. Only then could a more lucid picture be given. Nine men and nine women may simply not be enough for an experiment. Also there needs to be a detailed account of their fitness activity. If women in this study trained harder than the men it would distort results. Comparing a fit woman to an unfit man does not reveal much. The men who were in the study one can assume trained just as hard or with a similar method. Science should aim for precision, rather tan just accuracy. The actual test with the treadmill seems like the best method of acquiring data. Only if the results can be replicated can this be regarded as scientific fact.

        The results found that women have a physiological advantage. Their oxygen up take was more efficient resulting in less muscle fatigue. Women’s muscles extract oxygen from the muscles faster. This indicates that women’s aerobic capacities could be more efficient relative to their male counterparts. Normally, the assumption was that men would have the most physical advantages due to biological, anatomical, and physiological differences. Professor Beltrame  even stated ” this shakes up conventional wisdom.” It is still unknown why women have this advantage. This study was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism . One theory  is it could be related to women being capable of pregnancy. An efficient oxygen transport would be required to sustain a baby during the gestation process. Another possibility is that it is related to human evolution. The hominins of the past may have needed males to have a higher physical fitness capacity to do hunting, while females concentrated their physical functions on child birth. These are only speculations, not facts.

Why do men have higher running speeds if women are more efficient with oxygen up take? It is related to the structure of the female pelvis. It is wider which alters biomechanical function.  The muscles of the legs are the same, but men just have larger ones. This study is still useful even if it has flaws. Analyzing sex specific differences can contribute to designing training programs to improve women’s performance. Women are not physically inferior it is just their total physical fitness capacity is lower compared to men in particular areas of physical fitness. Exercise physiologists and health scientists are just now uncovering women’s physical advantages in athletic performance. Most studies have been done for male athletes and seeing as women are different this did not help understand how to design better training programs. Despite the biological and physiological differences women can develop into impressive athletes.  Being female does not limit physical fitness potential.

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Women Naturally More Fit Than Men According To Study

Common Strength Genes Identified

Common Strength Genes Identified

The University of Cambridge conducted a study identifying the common genetic factors in muscular strength. The data was accumulated from 140,000 subjects, with an additional 50,000 people from the UK, Netherlands, and Australia. The goal was to identify sixteen variants associated with muscular strength. Dan Wright was the author of the academic paper produced out of the Medical Research Council on Epidemiology. Wright’s analysis is that identification of such genes will allow for understanding the biology of muscular strength and relation to health. The variants were either located near or inside genes that play a role in muscular function including muscle fiber function and muscle cell nervous system communication. This reveals much about monogenic syndromes. Single genetic mutations can cause serious health problems. The difference variation among genes may explain why their is various differences in strength levels among populations. Dr. Robert Scott believes such a discovery could be a means of treating muscle weakness or other diseases of the muscular system.

       Hand grip strength was used a measure for identifying genetic variation. This normally is used as a tool for assessing muscular fitness. It has been suggested that weaker hand grip strength is associated with possible bone fracture risk and other health problems in older adults.  Hand grip strength has been linked to certain health outcomes, the correlation in regards to muscular strength in more uncertain.

There is certainly no or limited evidence that having lower strength increases the risk of cardiovascular disease or death. Higher strength did reduce the risk of bone fracture. Strength training was the best method of increasing bone mass as a preventative measure. If hand grip strength were an indication of longevity, then males would be expected to live longer. The truth is that on average men have shorter life expectancy, while having a stronger hand grip.

Male-female-grip-strength-decumulate-and-overlap There are obviously multiple factors that influence health. It is not just sex, but genetics, environment, and quality of healthcare. Diet and lifestyle choices also cam effect a person’s health. It has been speculated that people with greater hand grip strength could possibly recover from surgery. There are multiple genes and environmental factors interacting with one another to produce outcomes. The question still remains which specific factors are the most responsible for particular results. The data gathered had information on demographic, biometric, and health outcome variables.

        The genes related to muscular function include ACTG I, PEX 14, TGFA, and STY1 . ACTG 1 is responsible for muscle fiber structure and function. PEX 14, TGFA, and STY1 are essential for the communication between the nervous system and muscle cells.

Genes are units of DNA required to produce protein. These sections need to code for all amino acids to contribute to protein production. The location of the gene is on the chromosome. There can be several sections of DNA on certain regions coding for only one part of a particular protein. It is not one gene that influences traits, but a combination working together. To understand this, think of your body as a building. The rooms represent your cells. Each room (cell)  has filing cabinets ( chromosomes)   with papers (genes). The people getting access to the papers have to follow the directions written on them ( proteins).

The process is more complex than a simple analogy, which explains why mutations could occur. Not all mutations are harmful. Yet an serious error in a gene could cause health problems or disease. Variations that occur in LRPPRC, PEX 14, and KANS1 can be linked to certain medical conditions of the muscular system. There could be a possibility that there are more genes related to muscular strength.

         Added strength can reduce bone fracture risk. Strength training contribute to the health of the musculoskeletal system. As a person ages they lose both bone and muscle mass. The ossification process of bone changes during a lifetime. bone is broken down and rebuilt by the body. Osteoblasts must work to replace cells in the skeletal system. Osteoporosis and fractures become a health risk as people age due to changes in endocrinology. Sex hormone levels lower causing these changes.  Women who naturally have lower bone density are at risk. Smoking and high alcohol consumption have the ability to increase risk factors.

Race can also play a role. Women who are of European or Asian ancestry have a higher chance of getting osteoporosis. This is more so a representation of population genetics, rather than just   ethnic background. It does not mean every woman of that ethnic group will get it. Certain illness can be avoided with a change in habits. Exercise and a balanced diet can improve the quality of life. When there is a full understanding of genetics this will vastly improve the quality of the biomedical and health sciences. Beyond those two fields, there could be possibilities in terms of sports performance, exercise physiology, This may even have a level of controversy in regards what we should be allowed to do with the human body.

        It is inevitable that such knowledge will contribute to a transhumanist path. Genetic engineering is no longer an idea of science fiction, but scientific fact. If muscular strength could be determined by sixteen genes, it is possible to manipulate these genes to increase human athletic potential. The athlete of the future may be able to acquire super human strength only thought of in superhero comic books . There is the prospect of gene doping as it has been called becoming a problem for the sports world. There has to be to an extent a level of acceptance that performance enhancing drugs or genetic alteration will not disappear. Sports organizations still retain the right to ban whatever substances they choose, but would genetic manipulation still be considered an unfair advantage? If it were to be completely fair in a certain context, athlete’s with a natural advantage would have to be hindered in some way. Other competitors may be at a disadvantage simply, because of their genetics. To an extent training negates this, but it can only close a performance gap so far. There are bioethical questions regarding genetic engineering on humans that must be discussed. Like it or not humanity has reached a point in which it has become master of its own biology and soon its own evolution. The evolution has happened even without the aid of genetic knowledge or technology. Athletes now are bigger and stronger than they were in the past.

Better nutrition and training regimens has contributed to this development. The knowledge of sports science has increased vastly over the past century in terms of physiology and specific exercise sciences.  Discovering these specific genes could allow for more precise training regimens depending on an individual’s physical fitness potential. With new discoveries there is a potential for abuse. Technology and biological discovery do come with a level of risk. However, this is no excuse to remain ignorant about natural phenomena. There is still more to know about genes and cytology. Further exploration will not only help understand the nature of human health, but unraveling the mystery of life.

Common Strength Genes Identified

The Body Mass Index (BMI)

The body mass index is a calculation value for measuring the amount of body fat and what the weight should be of an individual of a certain height. This has been used to classify whether or not a person has weight related issues such as obesity. This scale has been used for both adults and children. The issue is that it may not be very precise. The measurements do not take into account muscles mass. The attempt at being a scientific measure does not seem as practical. Normally, when a person gains huge amounts of weight health problems become apparent. Aches and pains are present in the joints, because the skeleton has to support more weight than it was intended for. There is also a drastic decrease in cardiovascular fitness. The circulatory system becomes strained and the risk of certain cancers increase with an increase in body weight. The body mass index is not even accurate enough to be used as a diagnostic tool. The BMI is more of a screening tool. It may not even be as useful a screening tool as previously thought. A more precise assessment of weight related issues would involve skin fold thickness measurements, an examination of family history, and evaluations of both diet or physical activity. It is questionable that BMI can even be a measure of health.

           The body mass index at its core is a formula measuring a range of body weight that is considered healthy to a person’s height. The modern  body mass index came into existence in 1998 under the the National Institutes of Health. It was designed to be a general standard to aid doctors, researchers, dietitians, and various government agencies. Prior to this there was not a nation wide standard of determining healthy weight. Since the birth of BMI there has now been one standard.

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bmi-chartThe BMI value can either be metric or English system of measures.  The chart does not fully account for people of different somatotypes. Those with a mesomorphic body could be classified as obese. It should also recognize that women naturally have a higher body fat level no matter what  their weight is. The thinnest or most muscular woman would still carry a higher fat percentage. A woman who is not overweight may fall into the classification. Colette Nelson a female bodybuilder would reach at total of 175 lbs in off season being 65.1  inches tall ( 5 ft 5 in ). Using the equation for the BMI ( English system of measures). Solving this mathematically would be as follows : 175 lbs divided by the square of 65 inches and multiplied by 703. This results in a BMI of 29.11 on the chart placing her in the over weight range. If 0.89 were added to that value with an increase of her weight she would be in the obese range. When looking at pictures of Colette Nelson, it is clear that she does not have a weight problem.

           When she competed it was at a weight of 145 lbs. This would make her BMI at that point 24.13 considered a healthy weight. However, there is no indication she was any less healthy with a higher body mass. Her body is mostly muscle mass and their is no way for the chart to distinguish between fat and muscle. This is not just a problem for women measured on the scale, it also happens to larger men. If we were to do more calculations with women of different somatotypes a similar problem could occur. Women who have ectomorphic body types could be incorrectly classified as underweight. Halley Berry would have a BMI of 20.13 and could fall into the underweight range. As one can see she obviously is not emaciated, just thin.

It would be simple to fluctuate between these designated ranges in the BMI scale. Adding a small amount of weight would not serious harm health. The BMI has many limitations in precision. It does not estimate accurately the total amount of body fat that is present. It does not account for sex differences and sex hormones that have an effect on body composition. A person can have a high BMI, yet not be overweight or obese. Many professional athletes if their BMI was calculated would fall in the overweight range of BMI. It has been suggested that waist circumference may be a better indicator of weight health. The reason why the BMI may be rooted in its origins.

        The origins of the body mass index can be traced back to the 19th century. Adolphe Quetelet developed an index in which weight (kilograms)  was divided by the square of height (in meters). This was known as the Quetelet index  until 1972. Quetelet was by profession by trade a mathematician, astronomer, and statistician. He had a fascination with probability calculus and wanted to apply this to the study of human characteristics. The Belgian scientist then produced the equation in 1832. When this equation was developed, the world was a different place. Corpulence was seen as a sign of good health. This made sense in a time of limited food security. Even with the green revolution of the 20th century, there are still nations that struggle with food security. Prior to this having some fat would have meant survival. It was not until the mid-19th to early 20th century did weight gain began to be seen as a potential health risk. Insurance companies took note of this and developed normal weight tables of their own to determine which policies they should give their customers. Louis Dublin owner of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company was the harbinger in regards to normal weight charts based on a person’s height. This system was not exactly precise either. Weight was divided by a given height into two thirds. Undesired weight was 20% to 25% and the classification for morbid obesity was 70% to 100%. These measure seem arbitrary. Another problem was that these measures were done mostly on Western populations.

   The Polynesian  populations have a larger body structure compared to Europeans. This is a product of genetics, rather than race. The athletes that are from that region do not have health related issues in regards to weight. Yet, past and current weight classifications would state they are unhealthy. This is not true. East African runners may be classified as being under weight. Seeing as they have a high physical activity level it should be assumed that their health is in optimum condition. Such charts and equations do not account for the variation in populations globally. When  Adolphe Quetelet made produced his work he had no intention of using it for understanding obesity or weight related issues. He wanted to see if there was a Gaussian distribution in terms of height and weight. He did encounter issues when doing this with his statistical samples. The equation was developed to contribute to fixing possible errors. During his research he found that body mass increases during puberty height and weight stabilize. The only thin he was documenting was the average rate of growth in stages of the human life cycle. Even if a calculation is done in the metric system a person who is not overweight or obese could fall in that classification. Lenda Murray’s weigh was 74 kg and stands at a height of 1.65 m. Squaring her height and then dividing by the total weight results in a value of 27.2 BMI.

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This again places a person in the overweight range, when they do not have a weight problem. If we were to present this visually it would simple enough to see who has a weight problem. Lenda Murray during her years of competition was clearly at a high physical fitness level .    This does not mean physiognomy should be a measure of health. Women with naturally endomorphic body types would not be at a serious health risk. That would only happen if there was a drastic change in diet or endocrine related illness or disorder. Using charts and equations for weight in which it was not intended for will not give accurate assessments of health.

 The body mass index is not the best method for detecting weight problems. Studies have indicated that overweight individuals have similar or better outcomes compared to normal weight individuals in terms of cardiovascular incidents. There can be alternatives to determining healthy weight.

         The alternatives to BMI  measurement involve examining waistline. A 2012 study done in eight European countries showed that overweight people with large waists were most likely to develop diabetes just like people who were morbidly obese. Then there is the method of using the skinfold. The skinfold method measures body fat in various folds of skin  on the human body. Personal trainers use this method to help clients with particular fitness goals. There also could be more rudimentary measures. The ability to be ambulatory should be a simple marker. When people put on a certain amount of weight walking becomes more difficult. The extremely obese sometimes lose their ability to walk simply because the bones in their legs cannot support it. When weight goes up the skeleton will struggle to maintain support. Bone mass does not increase with the rise of adipose tissue. Stress tests could be given as an indirect way to see if there are potential weight issues. It is clear that everyone’s health condition is different and methods need to be developed to account for that fact.

        Health professionals continue to use BMI when there has been both historical and scientific questions to its accuracy. The body mass index does not thoroughly take into account sex and age in the measurements. As people age they lose muscle mass which can effect health. Older people may have a normal BMI, yet could be losing critical bone and muscular strength. There also has to be consideration for where the weight is gained on the body. If weight is gained in the abdominal or hip areas it can increase certain risk factors. The body mass index at least could be used to measure the probable weight health of a given population. This measure would not be a precise one. If there is an account of athletes who are larger, people who are thinner, or people of endomorphic body types this distorts the data. If this is considered the obesity rates may not be as high as previously thought. It is clear that weight related issues are on the rise globally, but there needs to be an improve method of measures. The best method to prevent or deal with weight related health challenges are the traditional ones : diet, exercise, doctor’s appointments, and controlled eating.

References

Zelman, Kathleen M. “How Accurate Is Body Mass Index, or BMI?” WebMD, WebMD, 5 June 2016, http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/how-accurate-body-mass-index-bmi#1.

Brodwin, Erin. “One of the Most Popular Ways of Telling If You’re a Healthy Weight Is Bogus – Here’s What You Should Do Instead.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 9 Sept. 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/bmi-is-bogus-best-way-to-tell-if-youre-a-healthy-weight-2016-9.

Eknoyan, Garabed. “Adolphe Quetelet (1796–1874)-the Average Man and Indices of Obesity | Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 22 Sept. 2007, academic.oup.com/ndt/article/23/1/47/1923176.

Team, The MNT Editorial. “BMI (Body Mass Index): What Is BMI?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 5 Jan. 2016, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/obesity/what-is-bmi.php.

The Body Mass Index (BMI)

Are Women Physically Fit Enough For Space Travel ?

As astronomers and astrophysicists discover more about outer space and the universe as a whole, there is the possibility that in the future humanity will regularly explore space. There could be chances in which humankind will engage in terraforming. There does exist exoplanets that may be Earth like. There will of course be the need for astronauts in the movement for wider space exploration. Such a journey either to reach a star or another planet would have a level of danger. Humanity reached the moon in 1969, which was the product of the Space Race during the Cold War. At that time most of the astronauts were men. Gradually, women began to become astronauts. There was and continues to be a common myth held that women are not physically fit enough for space travel. This is scientifically incorrect, yet there are still some considerations in terms of physiology and biology of a female space traveler . The environment of space can effect human health and the body. Some changes are sex specific and others occur in both. radiation, weightlessness, and effects on fertility are hazards. There are also other variables to consider for a long journey into space.

     There are particular requirements to be an astronaut. Education wise astronauts must have a master’s degree or higher in a science that could include mathematics, engineering, astronomy, biology or chemistry. There are many with very diverse scientific backgrounds on ships. There is a physical an astronaut must pass. Applicants must be in the best physical condition. One requirement is that a person has 20/20 vision. Candidates must be able to handle pressure on their bodies. Under water exercise has to be done to acclimate them to the pressure of space. They must be able to swim three laps in a 25 metre pool. This has to be done without stopping. Then the same action is performed with the space suit.

The Women pioneers of space exploration as shown above include Mae Jemison, Valentina Tereshkova, Sally K. Ride, and Liu Yang. 

Astronauts are basically given a scuba diving instruction. There are points in which water landing could occur and water survival training is critical. There is a height requirement which demands you be 190 cm tall to be a commander or pilot astronaut. Being a mission specialist the height requirement is less ranging from 149 to 193 cm. This may be the hardest obstacle for women,because on average they are shorter than men. This could be negated one day when spacecraft becomes more advanced. An astrouat’s routine fitness regimen involves running, biking, and weightlifting the are  most essential. Endurance is required to handle the weight of space suits weighing close to 300 lbs (136 kg) .   There has to be an exercise regimen while in space to prevent bone and muscle loss in space.  The lack of gravitation does not give the body the work that the skeletal and muscular system need. There also has to consideration for the circulatory system. One requirement is that an applicant must have a  blood pressure  of 140/90. This has to be at the reading when sitting. There are situations in which face low and high levels of barometric pressure. There also involves training in reduced gravity aircraft. This contributes to a space explorer getting acclimated to microgravity environments.

These requirements need an individual to be in great shape and health. Applicants must also have some flying experience. Flying experience is only required if you want to be a commander or an astronaut pilot. The training for astronauts has become more efficient compare to when it began in the 20th century. When the simulations began in 1957, applicants had to get in planes, while sustaining the aircraft’s sinusoidal or parabolic maneuvers. A colloquial phrase for reduced gravity aircraft became the “vomit comet.”  Around 1973 NASA took supervision of the the training program from the US Air Force. Then by 2008 a private company known as Zero G Corp became responsible for training. Flying in a wave pattern and reaching the midpoint of the parabolic motion allows the passenger to experience weightlessness. During this period weightlessness only lasts about 25 seconds. This will have to be done consistently to adequately prepare space travelers. This can make people ill with changes in motion.  A person with extreme motion sickness may find it difficult to become an astronaut. These requirements do not seem as intense as other physically demanding occupations, but are still rigorous.

         There must be a consideration of sex differences in physiology and biology. The muscular and skeletal structure are important to physical fitness. Men have on average more muscular strength compared to women. This does vary depending on health condition, age, and genetics. Men have a larger portion of upper body strength estimates vary women contain at least 40% less skeletal muscle in the upper body and 33% less in the lower body.

The reason for this is based on endocrine function. Women produce more estrogen and progesterone allowing for more body fat. Even the most muscular woman is carrying more body fat compared to a man. Androgens and specifically testosterone allow for a greater amount of muscular hypertrophy. This does not mean women cannot build muscle or strength. When a training regimen is the same for both men and women it would still result in men having a higher physical fitness level. The gap has to do also with staring point. If men have more muscle mass prior to the training regimen the gains would be higher. Weight training still has the same effect on a woman’s body, just not to the same extent. Men have more type II fast twitch muscle fibers. However, the body does switch been the more endurance based type I and  the more powerful type II muscle fiber. Strength doe not only depend on the actual muscle, but the neuromuscular activity. The rate of muscular contraction is critical to exerting force. Women do experience muscular hypertrophy in which muscle grows and repairs after exercise. Relevant to space travel for extended periods of time, it women do not exercise they would experience atrophy at a faster rate.

      To counter this it is essential that women build up as much strength as they can to prepare for a microgravity environment. The more musculoskeletal strength the more suited an individual is to space and longer travel. Women have lower bone density. This explains why they could be more susceptible to osteoporosis. The female skeleton has a wider pelvis and smaller thorax compared to the male skeletal structure. The reason men have an upper body advantage is that wider shoulders can allow more muscle to be housed there. More muscle correlates to more fibers being recruited to produce force. The skeleton is the frame that holds the body together, while ligaments and tendons contribute to movement as wells well as acting as structural support.

Cardiovascular fitness is also pivotal. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which effects how Vo2 max functions. Oxygen is transported to muscles to aid in the production of adenosine triphosphate for muscle contraction. A larger heart means that more blood is going to the tissues. Women have lower levels of hemoglobin which means their aerobic power is lower. Hemoglobin is a protein that must transport oxygen from the lungs to other tissues. Besides the muscular, skeletal, and respiratory system there are also considerations related to the reproductive system. Menstruation is not an issue or a hindrance. The only difference is that hygiene will have to be performed in a different manner. The more threatening waste management problems that involve urination and defecation. Gynecological health will not be effected from being on a space ship. However, there is a concern relevant to both men and women in regards to radiation in space. This could cause fertility issues, which explains why most female astronauts wait before having children. It possible for humans to procreate in outer space, but no such experiment has been attempted. It is unknown how a baby would develop in a space environment. This is why there are some restrictions on what female astronauts can do while pregnant. Female astronauts cannot do neutral buoyancy training while pregnant. Underwater dives which could last to eight hours could have negative effects on a developing child. There are some differences in how men and women react to extremes in the outer space. Reduction in oxygen supply (hypoxia), varying temperatures, acceleration, isolation,  and impact are examples of sex differences. These are minor and vary depending on the individual.

         There has not been an extensive study of female astronauts in terms of  health and physical performance. The reality is that there have been few female  long duration astronauts. The few that exist are individuals and such a small sample would not reveal anything about a much larger group of women. Female astronauts could be at higher risk for ovarian and breast cancer. Urinary tract infections are also another health concern for female astronauts. Even bacteria on women’s bodies can be altered during spaceflight. Another observation is that some astronauts suffer vision loss. There are many problems that can occur to the organ systems of the body in space. If bone is shed too much this will  lead to kidney stones. This is a health problem that effects more men rather than women. There needs to be more studies of female astronauts and more in general. If humanity is seeking to colonize space or other planets women have to be a part of the process. There is obviously a gender bias in the sciences and space exploration. NASA conducted tests from 1960 to 1961 to see if women could handle the rigors of space travel. Jerrie Cobb who was a pilot who did the same medical and physical tests for Mercury astronauts at NASA. Her score placed her in the top two percent of qualified candidates. Yet, it was a period of sexist prejudice and NASA was simply not looking for female astronauts. Such barriers are being broken, but there still needs to be improvement.

 Staying in space would have long term effects on health and the human body. The reason has to do with how humans evolved. Our ancestors developed in an environment with gravity and space has a zero gravity environment. That is why bones and muscles are effected from a sudden change in environment. Human beings are just like other animals in the sense that their biome is essential to their survival. Outer space is a more rough terrain than any desert, polar ice cap, or ocean. The health effects can only be fully understood when one stays in space for a period of time.

          Remaining in space can cause a change in the human body. The semimotor system gets disrupted to a degree. The inner ear is responsible for balance an when this is disturbed one can get nausea. Sinuses could get clogged due to the fluids of the body floating upward. The skeleton can lose mass and it is possible for astronauts to lose about 1 percent each month. Muscles can atrophy from not being used in a microgarvity environment. There is a solution to such problems which include taking vitamin D supplements and exercising 2 hours and 30 minutes six days a week. The cerebrospinal fluid may be effected by the microgravity, which results in changes in vision. Although there is the possibility of changes in physical health, mental health is also given attention. Being with a small crew away from larger populations can effect emotional states. This information can reveal much about how women would fare in long term space exploration. Seeing as their muscle and bone mass is lower it would be wise to do strength training prior to training as a astronaut. The rate of muscular atrophy would be faster compared to men. Men and women with ectomorphic body types may be more vulnerable to bone and muscle loss.

Doubtless of sex each person could react differently to space. Long journeys are complicated by radiation and the fact that the magnetic field of Earth protects us from such hazards. Going further into space would require more technology to maintain a healthy body. Even with exercise equipment, muscles of astronauts can lose up to 40% of their capacity for work. Planning an expedition to Mars would be vary precarious. The Journal of Physiology conducted a study in regards to the effect of weightlessness on muscles. The results showed that astronauts lost about 35% of their muscle fiber force. NASA has estimated it would take at least 10 months to reach Mars and 10 months to get back for one mission. Space does pose health hazards, but it is an unexplored wilderness still filled with unknown possibilities. There are exoplanets, blackholes, stars, nebula formations, and dark matter.

The solution to the threat to muscular health was to develop the Advanced Resistance Exercise Device. It is unknown if this new technology would be as effective in combating muscular atrophy. The only way to know with certainty is to measure the amount of muscle loss astronauts sustained when coming back from space. This exercise technology has been around since 2008, prior to that there was very little effective workout equipment for training the muscles. Exercise and high quality diet can prevent health issues on flights.

       NASA did conduct a study in which it examined how men and women handle spaceflight. The problem is the study only contained about 57 female astronauts. There were more men representing a total of 477. The records were examined between 2013 to 2017. The report showed that men had a greater tolerance for spaceflight in particular categories. Women were less likely to have hearing loss or vision impairment. Women according to the study lose more blood plasma and have a higher heart rate under stressful situations. There is very little difference in immune system response to space. Both men and women suffer from motion sickness during space travel. It happens at different times. Women experience it when arriving in space, while men have it coming back to Earth. The overall leading heath risk seems to be visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome. NASA and the International Space Station want to extend missions beyond six months to a year .

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The different effects of spaceflight on female and male astronauts. 

The conclusion that one would automatically come to is that women do not make quality astronauts. This is not true, but it reveals how possible solutions can be developed. More women are need for such studies to ensure precision in experiments. Spacecraft will have to either increase in speed or navigate in a manner in which one can easily travel from one point of space to another instantly. This has been theorized by astrophysicists in which traversable wormholes could be used to go long distances. Doing so would allow humanity to avoid certain health hazards. Distance is the biggest obstacle. Alpha Centari another closest to Earth is 4.4 lightyears away. This means it would take light 4.4 years to reach Alpha Centari  from Earth. One astronomical unit is equal to 150 million km ( 93 million miles ). Humanity will have to go far to reach something of interest. NASA must then study the problem of long term spaceflight from perspectives of exercise physiology, health science, biology, aeronautical engineering. and the general astrophysics of space.

          Women are capable enough to handle spaceflight. There are some considerations that should be taken into account in terms of physiology and fitness. Muscle atrophy and bone loss are serious concerns. They can be negated to an extent through training and technology. There are sex specific health related issues that must be examined. Some wonder why explore space at all. There are legitimate and practical reasons. The first reason  is that it part of human nature to be curious and explore. Since the first hominins migrated off the continent of Africa humanity has been colonized the Earth. The Bantu migrations, the Polynesian migrations, the Turko-Mongol nomads, and the Age of Exploration prove humanity does not remain still. The next step will be to go into space. Another reason for space exploration is to find and colonize Earth like planets. Seeing as the Earth is being destroyed by climate change and disregard for the preservation of the environment that would be more reasonable. There will be more exploration in the future and it will only be a matter of time before masses of people will travel through space. Hopefully a generation of female astronauts will be contributors to this project.

 

References

 MailOnline, Jonathan O’Callaghan for. “Battle of the Sexes in SPACE: Nasa Studies Medical Records to Discover Which Gender Fares Better in Zero-Gravity Conditions.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 20 Nov. 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2842813/Who-makes-better-astronauts-men-women-Females-suffer-vision-loss-males-deal-stress-better-study-claims.htm

McNally, Jess. “Astronaut Muscles Would Wither by Mars.” Wired, Conde Nast, 4 June 2017, http://www.wired.com/2010/08/astronaut-muscle-waste/.

Monaghan, Sheila. “NASA ASTRONAUTS ARE INCREDIBLY FIT.” Furthermore from Equinox, Furthermore from Equinox, 5 May 2017, furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2017/05/nasa-astronauts-workout.
Koren, Marina. “What One Year of Space Travel Does to the Human Body.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Mar. 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/03/scott-kelly-mikhail-kornienko/471717/.
Lunau, Kate. “Why We Desperately Need to Study More Female Astronauts.” Motherboard, Motherboard , 19 Apr. 2016, motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/4xa38j/why-we-desperately-need-to-study-more-female-astronauts-NASA-Sally-Ride.
Sivasubramanian , Shami. “The 7 Requirements to Be an Astronaut.” SBS, SBS, 15 July 2016, http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/space/article/2016/07/15/7-requirements-be-astronaut.

 Juan 28 Jul 2006 at 12:18 tweet_btn(), Stephen. “What Issues Are There for Women in Space?” The Register® – Biting the Hand That Feeds IT, The Register , 28 July 2006, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/28/the_odd_body_women_in_space/.

Spencer, Henry. “Why NASA Barred Women Astronauts.” New Scientist, New Scientist , 8 Oct. 2009, http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/10/why-nasa-barred-women-astronau.html.
Taylor, Nola. “Vomit Comet: Training Flights for Astronauts.” Space.com, Space.com , 25 Aug. 2017, http://www.space.com/37942-vomit-comet.html.
Are Women Physically Fit Enough For Space Travel ?

What Military Recruiters Aren’t Telling Women: You’ll Face Disproportionate Health Risks

What military recruiters aren’t telling women: You’ll face disproportionate health risks

This is an op ed from the Los Angeles Times originally published July 25, 2017 discussing the possible health issues women could face in combat roles. While there are legitimate concerns the articles raises, it is clear that they are not supportive of women have such jobs. It reveals that the Defense Department is undergoing a campaign to increase women’s numbers in combat jobs by 10 %.  Targets may be difficult to meet based on certain physical standards that the majority of women may not be able to meet. This explains why women involved in sports and physical fitness activities are being targeted for combat jobs. They would have the physical strength and endurance to meet the fitness standards. The article claims that there has not been a precise study to examine the disproportionate health risks of women in combat and also implies that combat integration would be an awful idea. It cannot be ignored that there are physiological and anatomical differences among the sexes. However, these are averages and what the military is looking for is women with the proper qualifications. If the standards are set, training is done correctly, and male soldiers see their female colleagues as valued members women in combat can will work. There are solutions to possible health risks to soldiers.

      There is the obvious statement of facts in the article in regards to physiology and fitness. These are generalities and averages that are well know to any individual with an basic understanding of biology. The average male can produce more testosterone which allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. As stated in the by the authors “the average woman can possess 55% to 58% the upper body strength of men.”   The difference in endocrinology also effects the skeletal system making bones denser. Larger lungs and hearts as well as a different shaped pelvis means men run faster. The difference translates to 40 % greater aerobic capacity compared to women. These are averages of men and women, but there should be consideration for women who have attained a high fitness level. The average woman would obviously be at a disadvantage. The female athlete would not have such a problem. Weightlifters, swimmers, as well as  track and field athletes would possibly be overqualified for some of the physical standards. There are of course health risks from injury,but stronger women are more likely to endure.

If the average woman is seeking to enter such a physically demanding job, she will have to train prior to basic training. Seeing as there is a disadvantage in muscle power it will have to be built. If a woman does not take this step initially, injury in basic training could occur. This has to be approached from a practical  physical fitness perspective. The first question is can a woman get stronger through a training method? It is possible and it requires weight training. This type of exercise also builds muscle and bone in women. Doing this prepares the body for rigorous activity of combat positions. Besides sex, there are other factors that effect physical fitness potential. There is the current state of health ( weight and diseases), genetics, and somatotype. Women who have mesomorphic body types will find vigorous physical activity easier and will respond to a greater extent to training. A woman of endomorphic or ectomorphic body type may have to train harder to reach a fitness target. Genetics play a role in athletic potential. Women who trains on the same regimen as a man will not reach the same physical fitness level.

Muscular hypertrophy is greater in males compared to females.  

If we look at averages, many men and women who would be drafted would either have to go on a weight management program. A  portion of the American population is either obese or overweight. They would need to be trained extra to deal with this. they state that “no training system can close the gap.” While women’s strength level would not reach the highest performing male, they could meet standards through training. Women who strength taring for several months can expect to see a 20 to 40 % increase in strength. The only way this will happen is if women lift weights heavy enough to cause fatigue can build muscle. Lighter weights are better for building muscle endurance. Women as the article points out may have to use most of their maximum physical fitness capacity. It should be noted there are men who may not meet the fitness  requirements either. However, no one would question their ability to be turned into a soldier.

 Women depending on which armor unit they are in are required to lift 35 pound shells and carry 100 pound packs. This may seem like too much, but it depends on the anthropometric measurements of the woman in such a position. Lifting 35 pounds repeatedly would not be a problem for a woman who has trained in strength building exercises. A woman who is 150 pounds with low body fat could have an easier time than a woman who is 122 lbs.The more type II muscle fiber the more endurance women will have to the physical strains of combat. These types of muscle fibers during recruitment provide more explosive power. Women have these muscle fibers as well, not to the same extent as men. At the cellular level and in the process of muscular hypertrophy, there is no difference. Women can build strength; the real obstacle is increasing running speed. Despite being closer to men in the lower body, the shape of women’s pelvis would mean they would run slower.

Training does not change the structure of the pelvis in women. It is possible to increase women’s running speed. Training must be done in intervals to be effective. When training to increase distance one should run slower during training. Increasing speed would involve require shorter distances while running to build up endurance. This would from a physical fitness point of view would be more difficult than building strength. The gap in physical fitness may not be reduced. but it can be narrowed. The only information revealed by this data is that women in peak physical shape would be better performers in physical tasks. The average woman would struggle without training. This means women would probably still remain in small numbers in the marines and frontline infantry divisions. The most physically demanding combat occupational specialties even if they open to women may not have equal numbers. Just like construction, firefighting, and law enforcement women will make a small percentage.

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This explains the ads targeting women who are fit enough for such tasks. The challenge for women is the higher the intensity the more strain they will face. Close combat units as the article explains have the issue of irregular meals, sleep deprivation, and low intake of calcium and vitamin D. The access to these critical vitamins can be distributed to soldiers in their supplies. Carrying such pills would not be an extra burden in terms of supplies. There are means to prevent the conservation mode in women’s bodies. Menstrual cycles could cease  and the possibility of osteoporosis could increase. Stress fractures the article states is from conservation mode, but is really from over loaded gear. Yet they attribute that to the pelvic injuries, urinary tact injuries, and pelvic organ prolapse. Designing armor and gear to fit the female body form can reduce injury during training and in battle.  The US military has began designing such armor to fight this problem. Women must focus on upper body exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, and bicep curls to strengthen those areas. Soldier loads must be designed to be ergonomically efficient. This way soldiers will not be overloaded with gear hindering their mobility. Soldiers need armor that is strong, but does not reduce their speed. Even the strongest people can get injured if the place too much weight on their body.

This reveals why soldiers feel the health effects after service. The military is ignoring health issues and providing low quality healthcare. Women should avoid taking contraception thinking that it will enhance performance. There is a myth that the menstrual cycle reduces a woman’s physical strength and athletic performance. Women take contraception not to prevent birth in this circumstance, but think they will perform better. This comes to having accurate information about women’s bodies. Not using contraception except for what it was intended to be used for can prevent weight gain and loss of bone mineral density. To prevent such health problems it is critical to monitor soldier health and to make sure they are aware of possible health conditions .

         There is a general fitness issue of weight management that the text does not discuss. The American population struggles with either obesity or weight control. The data could be exaggerated if calculated on a body mass index scale, which has not always been the most accurate. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey  66% of American adults are either overweight or obese. Then was an increase from 53% a generation ago. There could be numerous factors in the spike. Food labeling may not be completely honest and the use of high fructose corn syrup contributes. Foods with enormous amounts of sugar and fats also sabotage weight loss efforts. Then it could be difficult if one does have the motivation to lose weight. Some try multiple times and quit. There has to be an atmosphere of encouragement to change habits. Another problem is keeping the weight lost off. Weight issues do not only effect adults, but children and youth. What this means is that the majority of the population would not be physically fit enough to meet military standards. That means many Americans would have to lose weight prior to starting any form of basic training. Besides that, there has to be a paradigm shift in how people view exercise and physical activity. The problem is people see as a chore, rather than something fun or enjoyable. This is why physical education classes should be structured  in that manner. Not only will it teach children to be active,but it will  encourage life long healthy habits. Relevant to women there is a challenge. It is harder for them to lose weight. Higher estrogen production and differences in metabolism make explain this. Women can lose weight through the right methods. Diet alone will not be adequate; there has to be an exercise regimen to burn calories. What also must be done is altering women’s perceptions about fitness and physical activity. There still is the antiquated belief that exercise,sports, and physical activity or skill is male only. When women understand that their bodies are not biologically inferior, they gain more confidence in their physical skills. Doing this would make it easier for women entering the service. The American population has to get its weight issues under control if it wants to assemble a larger fighting force.

        This op ed does have an agenda. While it does not resort to outrageous claims as detractors of women in combat make, it does believe in the frailty myth. The idea that anything physical women will fail at. Physical skill or strength or occupations that require it are places that women are not meant to be in accord to those who believe in women’s biological inferiority. Julie Pulley a former army captain and Hugh P, Scott a Navy medical officer have credentials as military professionals, who wrote this op-ed. However, they do not offer solutions to issues of women’s health. Besides that, they ignore women who have excelled. There have been women who were physically capable, but at the time of their service combat jobs prohibited them. Alley Miesch Nie was a military service member. Looking at her photograph one would assume the 5’4 woman would not be able to handle combat or physical tasks.

blog_alley-miesch-nie_military_435x290  Despite a person’s gender bias the reality tells another story. At 141 pounds during her competitive career as an athlete she was able to 225 lbs  bench presses, 350 lbs squats, 800 lbs leg presses, and 325 lbs deadlifts. She clearly developed an impressive level of functional strength through training. Based on these statistics, how would Alley do on a particular MOS standard? These new standards are called “gender neutral” yet there is a problem with that. Using this terminology makes people think that standards are lowered for women. What it really means is that there will no longer be a fitness standard target that is lower for women. It means both men and women will have to be qualified physically depending on which occupation. The standards vary depending on the US Navy, US Army, and US Air force job. After basic training, the soldier can make the decision which MOS they want to go to.

  The year 2017 has brought some updated combat arms fitness standards. The biggest changes came to infantry and armor. The test will be in four parts. It wants to specifically target who would best fit in a particular occupational specialty. This new test is called the Occupational Physical Assessment Test which went into effect January 1st. It has only one scoring scare and adjustments are not made for sex or age. The marines did have separate standards which are now being formed into one fitness standard. It consists of four fitness events which include a medicine ball throw, standing long jump, deadlift, and interval run. The scores are classified based on the results of performance labelled in color codes . The black (heavy) score means a soldier is prepared for the physical demands. Significantly prepared is gray. The moderate range is gold, while the lowest score is white (unprepared). Soldiers who make the black category will qualify for all MOS in the US armed forces. All recruits must meet the gold category. Infantry, armor, and combat engineer are what would fall under the black category. The gray category would include tank mechanics and helicopter repair mechanics. Many combat jobs are under the moderate gold category ( army medical occupations ). Based on this information it seems that Alley would have no problem reaching the black category. Women with the least amount of fitness would fall into the unprepared category. The majority of women could fall into either moderate or some in the significantly prepared. If a recruit wants to really be part of some occupation specialty, they have to make sure they are physically prepared for the test. Another problem is that the height and weight standards will have to be adjusted.

Height        Min Weight            17-20            21-27               28-39              40+

58                 91                           119                 121                 122                 124
59                 94                           124                 125                 126                 128
60                 97                           128                 129                 131                 133
61                 100                         132                 134                 135                 137
62                 104                         136                 138                 140                 142
63                 107                         141                 143                 144                 146
64                 110                         145                 147                 149                 151
65                 114                         150                 152                 154                 156
66                 117                         155                 156                 158                 161
67                 121                         159                 161                 163                 166
68                 125                         164                 166                 168                 171
69                 128                         169                 171                 173                 176
70                 132                         174                 176                 178                 181
71                 136                         179                 181                 183                 186
72                 140                         184                 186                 188                 191
73                 144                         189                 191                 194                 197
74                 148                         194                 197                 199                 202
75                 152                         200                 202                 204                 208
76                 156                         205                 207                 210                 213
77                 160                         210                 213                 215                 219
78                 164                         216                 218                 221                 225
79                 168                         221                 224                 227                 230
80                 173                         227                 230                 233                 236

Alley because of her height would fall out of the required weight range. The ironic part is that she is not overweight. The body mass index does not account for a person who has vast amounts of lean body mass. So a woman who built up muscle would be denied the position based on the weight and height standards. The Marines realizing women were fit enough, but did not fall in the range of the body mass standards had to make a change. These standards have also effected men who just are bigger. The average Marine is bigger than in the past and this has not been accounted for. A muscular strong woman would then fall out the weight and height regulation. This would put shorter women at a disadvantage, because under the old regulations.

 The women are going to need the extra lean body mass they have built up. The maximum weight for a woman of 5’3 is 141 lbs. Short muscular women even if they are capable would then disqualified. There was the option of wavier, but this process was long and cumbersome. Women could have been reducing their physical optimum to reach the weight requirements. This only harms success. Another problem being addressed is unequal fitness standards. Women must not be given lower standards based on ideas they will perform worse. That means having them so the same exercises. One issue that arouse was three pull ups controversy in 2014. Most female Marines struggled doing three pull-ups. Detractors took that as evidence women could not meet the demands of combat. Yet, upon further investigation the problem became obvious. Women were for a long time doing the flexed arm hang rather than pull-ups. That exercise in particular will not build the most upper body strength. When women were trained to do such an exercise it was not a problem. The mass media focused on women’s failures rather than their successes.

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Women are going to need the physical strength and fitness  to be in combat positions.

The article admits “women are essential in America’s armed services” yet the author may not truly believe that. The most vocal opponents against women in combat come ironically from conservative and Republican Party groups and individuals. They have become the party of war and yet they are condemning women who enthusiastically  volunteer for service. This is why the constant slogan that they preach “support the troops” is disingenuous. The conservatives and far-right Republicans cite sex differences as evidence women are incapable or inferior in terms of combat qualification. The reality is that women have been in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan in unofficial capacities. The reason for misogynist rhetoric or behavior ( the Marine cell phone picture scandal) is that men do not want to compete with women for combat jobs. the irrational fear that women are going to take jobs away from men in the military is ludicrous. The policy of  military intervention in various nations around the world. There will be no shortage of jobs in the military. There may actually be a time in which there may not be enough men to fill these positions. It makes no sense to ban women who are qualified for a combat job. The article states that army recruiting sites or recruiters themselves do not reveal reports about the health risks. Anyone with a basic understanding or physiology or anatomy would realize physically demanding jobs to have an attrition rate. Physical attrition can happen from repetitive motion injuries and factors due to range considering the intensity of  activity. This may happen to women faster over the years. The male body may be able to sustain more trauma, but no person of sex is impervious to injury. The only solution is to reduce soldier load for ergonomic efficiency and let recruits know specific standards as well as the best methods for training. The US military must stop present the frailty myth as fact and having low expectations for women in combat positions.

        The evidence used to make the case women are not fit for combat must be questioned. The one text that they do mention “Musculoskeletal Injuries in Military Women” is credible but the authors do not mention the solutions given after the study. The 2011 report has general prevention of injury strategies that the US military is finally implementing. The solution that the report states is to have modifications in the training programs. Running mileage has to be reduced, because many injuries occurred from this. The training method should involve progressive and gradual exercise stress. The report notes that higher fitness levels mean less injury. The reason why the Brigade Combat Team placed a fitness standard for recruits to meet before training was to solve this problem of high injury rates. Women must meet the three push-ups, 17 sit-ups,  and run 10.5 minutes for one mile before they can go train for the BCT. The reason it should be done gradually is that the body must adapt to the level of intensity. The report also notes that progressive loading exercises are the best for strengthening the lower body muscles. The muscles that should be targeted are the soleus, gastrocnemius, quadriceps, hamstrings, tibialis (anterior and posterior), and gluteus medius. The report found a solution yet the authors of this op-ed do not share this information.

Some solutions are also the most simple ones. Women require better running shoes. Having the proper running shoes can allow for avoidance of knee, ankle, hip as well as the back. These running shoes should be comfortable reducing as much pressure on the foot as possible. Shoes should contain Achilles Heel relief, strong midsole, fexiable toe box,  and enforced cushioning. The toe box should provide plenty of room. These attributes of a running shoe help make the shock of running less harmful to the feet and legs. This is critical considering women’s different pelvic structure creates a more q angle. This also indicates that soldiers require shock absorbing boots. Having these will allow for less stress fractures and lower extremity injuries. “Musculoskeletal injuries in Military Women” provides prevention suggestions to common aliments that could befall female soldiers. A combination of exercise, training adjustment, and proper running shoes will vastly solve the problem of high injury rates in women. Core stabilization exercises are also recommended to women in the report. The rectus abdominis including the external and internal obliques must be strengthen to prevent spinal conditions.

The report also cites the treatment, diagnosis, and management of multiple injuries.Not only that, the 2011 report delineates proper rehabilitation from injuries.   A soldier must be aware of  lower back injuries, patellofemoral syndrome, Achilles tendinitis ( or tendinosis) , iliotibial band syndrome, ACL tears and other conditions can be prevented. The training will have to build up bone and muscle mass in women. If one reads the report thoroughly it is not arguing excluding women; it provides practical answers to the disparity in health for military women.The second source regarding women in combat the authors cite ” The Physiological and Medical Aspects That Put Women at Risk for Overuse Injuries.” The only information it provides is what could be deduced based on the 2011 report for the Army surgeon General’s office. Women have to use more of their maximum physical capacity to perform on the same level as men. The only conclusion is that women must build their core strength and upper body to lift the weights required for physically demanding combat jobs. Both of these reports show the health risks, but provide solutions, rather than using them for justifications for keeping women out of combat. They identify a problem and scientifically assess the situation and formulate a answer. The conclusion is to have women train first before attempting tests for combat positions. Physical fitness level before entry is pivotal to success. However, the text cites one of the writings of Marine Captain Katie Petronio who makes it clear that she does not favor women in combat. Most of her writings are specifically against women in the infantry. Her agenda seemed to support the conservative cause of preventing the ban from ending, but claimed on a CNN interview in 2012 : ” I’m not against women in combat.”     Then went on to explain “combat readiness is going to be effected by this.”Women who enter combat are not going to reduce combat readiness or efficiency, as long as they meet the same standards. Petronio claims that her two deployments two Afghanistan caused her health problems. The first was muscular atrophy and weight loss . The atrophy only happens when muscles are not in use. This could have been another medical issue not part of her combat experience. Sudden atrophy would indicate some form of multiple sclerosis or at least symptoms of it. She may not have had this, but it was clear that she was not training her body to maintain muscular strength.

This is Mina Mituskoa which shows her during her athletic career and after. As you can see her muscles atrophied after not doing intense training. 

When you stop exercising such gains will be lost. This happens faster with women, due to the difference in hormones. The extreme weight loss was probably induced by irregular meals. Such low body fat levels from irregular meals may have caused her infertility. Endurance issue could have just been caused by the extreme environment of Afghanistan. Maybe if her training were different, she would have been able to handle such rigors. The time in which she entered the new standards had not been established. The footwear and equipment has to be designed for the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Petronio has in a Phyllis Schlafly fashion promoted an anti-woman sentiment in the infantry. It is ironic that a woman is the one preaching such ideas. Citing her article for the Marine Gazette does not add to the image of providing an honest opinion.

The common health problems of stress fractures and spinal cord injury can be reduced by lighter loads and improving a recruit’s physical fitness level before entry. 

The numerous health risks are well know,especially the major one of death in battle. Those injured by gunfire, shrapnel, or suffer a traumatic brain injury are not mentioned in the text. Military recruiters do not tell the truth about the US. There is also a more pressing issue that has often been ignored rape and mental illness in the US military. Women face sexual violence from their male colleagues. Women also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Hardship and witness the carnage of war makes it difficult to adjust to civilian life.

        The military has another health crisis of rape and sexual assault. According to the Pentagon statistics reports of sexual assault have reached an enormous high. Service members reported a total of 6,172 cases in 2016. This does not account for the women and men who do not report attacks.  The Pentagon also reported that 58% of victims said they faced some form of reprisal for exposing their attacker. Sexual misconduct is ubiquitous in the armed services. Only recently has the US military taken action, but this may not be enough. Sex based violence is a threat to health and personal security of the women and men who serve. Many times commanding officers may be involved, but are not brought to trial by a civilian court. A military court is more likely to be more lenient. The only way this scourge of violence can be stopped is if punishments are more severe. The problem is not just in attitudes; it is institutionally based. The Marines have this problem with online harassment. It had to deal with a Facebook group known as “Marines United” which often spread misogynist and lascivious commentary about women in the armed forces. There is a hostile work environment that requires dramatic human resources action. If not, this will hinder military effectiveness and productivity overall. A culture of mistrust is growing at a period when it is required to function as a unified fighting force. There has to be a way to challenge the strange hazing culture that is present in the US military. This involves fraternity like antics, which involves the harassment of women. It is no secret that the US military has an unwritten policy of rape of the populations they invade. From World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War US soldiers have assaulted populations with sex violence. With Iraq and Afghanistan the numbers could be much higher. America now has a declining global image, due to the damage of aggressive and unprovoked war. The authors should realize this is just as much of a health risk to women as combat itself.

        Soldiers may leave the service without any physical injuries, but mental health can also be effected. Many soldiers are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. This could also put them at risk for depression. The challenge is there is still stigma surrounding mental illness. This is why  people do not seek the help they need. There is nothing wrong with a person seeking help. A study conducted by the US military revealed that soldiers have higher rates of mental illness than the civilian population. The worst case result after service is possible suicide. There are explanations for higher rates of mental illness among military personnel. It could be some had it prior to entry into the US military.  Data collected from the Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members revealed that soldiers had six times as high episode of intermittent explosive disorder. This is a mental disorder when rage cannot be controlled and impulse is difficult to manage. The study surveyed 5,500 soldiers. There is the possibility of multiple tours of duty causing the problem. Younger soldiers are more at risk for mental illness. The reasons could be that they become home sick, stressed, or do not have the emotional support system.

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The military must take into consideration what multiple deployments will do to military families. It is critical for a soldier’s well being to stay connected to friends and family.

There needs to be an honest description of the hardships that will follow military service. However, it is not the case of false advertising. Some people like the idea of danger and adventure as well as possible risk. They want to explore the world, but do not have the means to travel. The military in some ways provides that opportunity for some who are economically disadvantaged. The shock of being in a new environment and acclimating can be difficult. There are reasons for the suicides, which are elucidated by particular experiences. It has been known soldiers may be forced to do unspeakable and unethical acts that were ordered by their commanders. If if violates protocol or basic rules of warfare. The guilt and controversy will eventually get to people engaging in such acts. Killing one’s self is an escape from some from constant mental anguish. Soldiers and the military must realize that getting help or consulting someone is not weakness. The military trained soldiers to be tough and self reliant, but even the strongest people need emotional support.

       There are certain realities that the US military has to come to terms with. Women are going to be a part of the fighting force and resisting this change will only hinder operation. Just like African Americans becoming integrated into the US military it will happen. The US armed forces are becoming more diverse and represent the demographic shift in America. The US will have to reevaluate its foreign policy strategy.  Women have a harder time due to the fact their ability is put into question. The frailty myth or the idea women just cannot be physically capable is still disseminated through out the mass media. Conservative outlets are the most vituperative. Their argument is that “you don’t see women playing in the NFL.” War is more violent and complex that a football game. A sports event does not involve someone being killed or imprisoned after defeat. The only concern is if a female soldier is disarmed some how. A larger man would have the advantage of strength that she is fighting. This means they would have to be reliant on martial arts skills. Judo and Krav maga are effective fighting styles that can be useful for a person who is smaller.

This is why women must be given the same hand to hand combat training. Doing so ensures women can fight out a precarious situation if disarmed. However, just being physically strong does not automatically make you a great fighter. Limited skill and maladroit movements could be more of a hindrance. Although this is a sports analogy consider this : a hand to hand fight between a MMA fighter and a bodybuilder. The more muscular person may have more strength, but did not learn fighting techniques. The MMA fighter has knowledge of these and knows how to avoid hits. This could be a decisive factor in determining who wins.

 Each fighting style has its strengths and weaknesses. As we have seen from women’s mixed martial arts and boxing they do have the ability to fight. There is the question can a woman carry a wounded man off a battlefield if the situation calls for it. The requires a significant portion of upper body strength. Women can lift men with an understanding of leverage. The approach should be to have them practice casualty drags both without gear and with their armor on. Carrying a person without gear is easier, because there is no extra weight. Having women do both can physically prepare them for the demands.

There could be simple solutions to this problem. Detaching some of the gear and removing the person could be one. Dragging the individual by there shoulders could be another. Yet, there could be situations that require medical evacuation and moving the person could cause more harm. Women who are in this situation should be able to do just fine if the passed their tests and met proper qualifications. Thus the argument “women are not strong enough” seems to lack cogency. Even ones that are qualified still are questioned about their competence. Women who work in mostly male dominated professions have to work extra hard to prove themselves. One simple mistake can be a representation of the group, which demonstrates the general sexist atmosphere in these jobs. The US military has to challenge this culture of women being less than capable. The frontline has been burred with warfare becoming more asymmetric. So, women who go to other locations around the globe may see combat without having trained for it. Physical fitness is important, however technology negates this in some regards. Muscles are of little protection against tanks, jets, bombs, guns, drones, biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons. A physically fit military is essential, however a state must have the technology and tactics to ultimately triumph in conflict.  Other nations are also allowing women to serve on the frontline. The UK and India are now in the process of allowing women to fight in combat roles. It is only a matter of time before more countries start doing the same.

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Countries that allow women in combat. This was a map produced in 2013. This however does not include women who fight in an unofficial capacity .

There are women who fight in unofficial capacities. This could be in paramilitary groups, liberation movement causes, or other armed insurgencies. The peshmerga and YPG has female fighters operating in Iraq and Syria. The Kurds do not have their own state,but seem to be attempting to carve out one after the battle against ISIS ends. It is clear that women will be a part of that fight as well. The Tamil Tigers also mobilized women in war during the civil war in Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009. FARC  when it was fighting the Colombian government did the same. These places were not states so that is why on the data of women in combat. It seems more women are involved in combat than previously thought.  A majority of Northern European countries allow women in combat. Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

It seems people if inspired enough will pick up arms if they deem a cause worthy. Women who are born in countries with less resources do not have the same the training as the US military women and still fight effectively. There is no reason that women in the US cannot do the same. The biggest question is how physically strong can a woman get in order to meet the qualifications of certain military occupational specialties ? A sample from women’s weightlifting  scores could provide a hypothesized answer. The women who fall in a fitness category of advanced and elite would be more likely to handle more manual labor compared to the beginner or intermediate fitness level. This may complicate implementing a draft. Women would take longer to reach fitness targets.

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The only solution is too either adjust the total goal target of the number women you want to serve or have a fitness program in place. This can be done, but another issue must be addressed. Women should register for the selective service. The fact that one preaches equality means that you also accept the responsibility that comes with it. Men do not have a choice, because they are forced to register. The option of being a conscientious objector is available, yet this may be ignored by a military that is becoming more desperate for a victory in a series of failing military engagements. There should be no objection from any advocate for women in combat to reject women being part of the selective service. By this same line of reasoning, this is not license to end a volunteer army system. So far, it has worked well sense the end of the Vietnam War and allowed  for higher skilled and higher paid positions to become available. Americans will not tolerate being drafted for wars that are either imperialist in objective or futile in execution. The point the US military is for security. The United States is more and far beyond capable of defending itself. Most of America’s military engagements have nothing to do with security at all. They either advance a business agenda or a geopolitical strategy of keeping America as the world’s sole superpower. Americans have been taught that its military fights for freedom and human rights when this is a fabrication. If there is a concern about military recruiters being extremely dishonest, this is the part that should also cause concern.

            There have been exaggerated claims that allowing women in combat will result in failure in US military operations. Women entering combat will not do this, because the US is continued a path that could lead to major social and political issues. Take the role of policeman of the world has caused much anger and distrust of the US throughout the world. The end of the Cold War gave the US immense power which it has abused. Without the Soviet Union,there was little justification for a large military. This did not stop interventions in Somalia, Iraq, or Yugoslavia. NATO and the US struck Kosovo not for humanitarian reasons,but to dismantle Yugoslavia further. Civil war and ethnic conflict was already tearing the country apart, intervention by other Western European nations furthered the disintegration. The US wants to maintain global hegemony even if it conflates into wider regional conflicts. China and Russia are clearly world powers and the US sees them as a threat. This may not be the case, if diplomacy was utilized. Instead there is a network of shadow wars and wars of proxy occurring between the US, China, and Russia. All these powers use the false narrative of fighting the War on Terror as a justification for reducing freedoms or initiating wars. North Korea, Ukraine, and Syria are countries that find themselves caught up in the nexus of wars of proxy. The United States must accept the that the world is moving to a multipolar  world power system.Military recruiters will never be honest about what America is really doing. They will never tell of the numerous atrocities, corruption in the Department of Defense, or the neoconservative war agenda for various countries. To say that women are being more so manipulated by being recruited for certain jobs is no more exploitative than any other aspect of the US military. Opening combat roles to women in a way was a public relations technique to improve the image of the US military. lost wars, war crimes, and the abuses of the military industrial complex have tarnish the institution’s image. Maybe a new generation of  leadership in the US military can reverse this. Women should not seek to be just combat soldiers; they should also aim to be generals of the highest rank.

Women should become part of the leadership and maybe with new perspectives some problems can be addressed from a different approach. There has to be also a change in political leadership. The system of world politics should adopt another mode of operation. There should not be preparations for war, rather a sustainable peace. All nation-states are guilty of competing with one another for military dominance of the globe. There are nations that carve out and become power centers in a particular region often bullying smaller nations. On a larger scale world powers bully the entire globe. The US-EU block has done such actions to Libya, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria. It has to be understood that liberal democracy or another governance system cannot be imposed upon people. The US military is an apparatus for security, not nation building. A complexus of skilled diplomacy can prevent war; intervention should be the last resort. These ideas are practical, but with more women and others joining the US military the possibility of peace seems hopeless.

           There were rumors that Donald Trump was going to reverse the Obama era measure allowing women in combat. It has not happened, but there is a possibility. He has already targeted transgender service members  who do not make up much of the US military. Blatant acts of discrimination are common in  America. Even if the individual is qualified hate and the status quo is favored. There are numerous examples that show women are capable.

Although women have proven that they can be capable, there will always be doubts and hatred directed at them for being in jobs that were male only. If combat integration is to be successful there has to be a massive human resources effort. Sexual harassment and assault should be punished quickly and severely. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs must work to provide a higher standard of healthcare . Veterans too often are not getting high quality care that should be every citizen’s right.If not the US could face a major public health crisis. Soldier health should incorporate mental and physical well being. While there is a movement to improving the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, the care in regards to PTSD and depression are not adequate. Military recruiters should be honest about the health risks and the challenges involved. Honesty about the military should not discourage individuals with a strong desire to serve. Women should not be discouraged from serving just as long as they know what they are signing up for. A military health maintenance program can solve certain problems and reduce medical discharges.

Further Reading

  Reuters. “Sexual Assault Reports in U.S. Military Reach Record High: Pentagon.”NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 1 May 2017, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sexual-assault-reports-u-s-military-reach-record-high-pentagon-n753566.

Healy, Melissa. “As Obesity Keeps Rising, More Americans Are Just Giving Up.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2017, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fewer-americans-diet-20170308-story.html.

Myers, Meghann. “New in 2017: New Fitness Assessment to Go Combat Arms.” Army Times, Army Times, 18 Oct. 2017, http://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2016/12/19/new-in-2017-new-fitness-assessment-to-go-combat-arms/.
Willingham, Val. “Study: Rates of Many Mental Disorders Much Higher in Soldiers.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Mar. 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/03/health/jama-military-mental-health/index.html.
What Military Recruiters Aren’t Telling Women: You’ll Face Disproportionate Health Risks

Amazon Feminism Erasing Biology as A Barrier to Equality

Amazon Feminism Erasing Biology

This writing from the Being Feminist Blog examines what is amazon feminism and its wider meaning. At first this term and ideology may be perplexing when first heard. This type of feminism falls under the third wave and promotes the idea that developing women’s physical prowess is a means to achieve gender equality. Its origins are ambiguous, but some link it to ideas by Ayn Rand the 20th century Objectivist philosopher. There is a dedication to the image of the female hero and female physical strength. Like any belief system it has particular flaws. Sexists tend to use the fact men and women are different as evidence that women are inferior. This is a fabrication, because human evolution disproves such notions. The other end of the spectrum wants to believe that men and women are not different in terms of their biology and physiology. Thomas Gramstand explained this belief ” Amazon feminism is concerned about physical equality and is opposed to gender role stereotypes against women based on assumptions that women are supposed to be, look, behave as if they are passive, weak, and physically helpless.”While it is rational to challenge gender stereotypes, the concept of physical equality has issues. It assumes that women are in their natural state are physically inferior and therefore must work to compete with men on a physical level. There is a misconception that the reason men dominate society is that their greater physical strength allows them to do so. Some third wave feminists believe this too and think if women were as physically strong as men this would erase inequality. This is not true due to the fact it is property ownership and unequal incomes  are the root of much of the oppression in society. Taking such a position in the concept of physical equality means one assumes the female body is biologically inferior. There are plenty of physically strong women, but they are still subject to sexist discrimination like other women. Amazon feminism is great in the belief that a physically strong woman is not an abnormality, but an admirable role model.

          The Randian origins of amazon feminism are questionable in regards to whether they are really progressive. There are some interpretations in which Rand is described as  rejecting gender role collectivism and embracing absolute freedom. The basis of Rand’s Objectivism was that pursuit of one’s happiness is paramount  and that our reality is independent from consciousness. This emphasis on self over others and absolute freedom does not seem as enlightened as one would assume. Rand ideas have become popular with American libertarians and conservatives, even though she may not have described herself as such. Maybe women who do develop themselves physically to an extend are following a path of objectivism. Many women participate in sports or nontraditional jobs doubtless of what society thinks. To them they are pursuing what makes them happy or making rational self interest a priority. However, man is not an island to himself, people are part of communities and wider societies. These bonds cannot not be broken, simply because humanity is a social species.

This extreme individualism could be applied to how some women do not want to conform to societal expectations of what a woman can be or do. This takes on a version of heroism that Rand exalted in her works.  The hero struggles to produce art or achieve a goal in which society may reject, but ultimately the individualist will triumph over the collective. This was emphasized in The Fountainhead  in which Howard Roark would not sacrifice his architectural artistic vision. From this perspective women athletes and those in physically demanding professions seem like a paradigm of a Randian hero. It should be understood that Rand was not a feminist. Ayn Rand said that she would never vote for a female president. It seems that she believed that type of job would not be suitable for women based on their nature. She once stated that “women ruling over men  puts them in a very uncomfortable position.” Clearly she believed that that would be too much for women to handle. There have been other nations that have had female leaders both in the past in present. Good leadership comes from reason, patience, perseverance, and understanding. One’s sex would have nothing to do with these qualities. Rand also thought that feminists were looking for hand outs and were harming men.

This is an example of how some ideas from not so progressive people are either adopted or used for other ideologies. Rand would probably not agree with amazon feminism entirely seeing as she would think its just women trying to compete with men for the sake of it. However, she might agree with the concept of not being conformist or part of the collective perspective on women’s proper roles according to society. While amazon feminism does have elements of objectivism, it cannot be counted as a Randian philosophy.

        Sex differences cannot be counted a barrier. They are not going to be erased unless human evolution or genetic engineering make that possible. The only way physiological and biological differences create barriers is in physically demanding occupations. The average woman will have a more difficult times passing physical tests, especially ones that require upper body strength. The average man has more muscle mass and greater aerobic capacity giving them advantages in jobs that require high levels of physical fitness. However, with training women can reach physical fitness targets or requirements. The fact that they are female does not stop them from either becoming firefighters, law enforcement officers, soldiers, or athletes. There will continue to be lower numbers of women in these professions.

There will be in the future more women in athletics seeing as they compete in their own leagues. Still some sports for them have to reach a level of development. Baseball and football is a small area compared to other sports for women. It should be understood women’s lower numbers do not have to do solely with biology. There have been historically jobs that women have been banned from. Front line infantry is one example . Women even if they were qualified were not allowed in combat jobs simply on the basis of their sex. The weak sex stereotype was influencing officials’ decisions, but since it has been reversed. The idea of female frailty is still stuck in peoples’ minds, even when there are physically strong women who refute this idea. Yet, biology cannot be ignored entirely . The average male has about 40% muscle mass compared to women’s 30%. Women contain a higher body fat percentage, which also explains the differences in strength. Estimates vary, but women can have close to 60% of the upper body strength of a man and 80% of the lower body strength when the size is held constant. Other that maximum physical fitness capacity, women still experience muscular hypertrophy under an exercise regimen.

When one see women in professions that require physical skill this proves that biology is not a barrier. Their are eugenic concepts that are still presented as fact about women’s bodies. The persistent belief is that women of such a physical fitness level cannot have children or that it damages the reproductive system. Women’s bodies were never designed to be strong or powerful. These ideas that developed during the Victorian age in medical circles have since been discredited. There still is a work to be done studying how design the most effective training regimen for women in terms of exercise physiology. Most studies have been conducted on male athletes. Sex differences are not proof of inferiority, rather the product of evolution.

       The physical equality concept seems to fall in the realm of power feminism. This faction of the ideology believes not in equality, but that women should just amass as much power and challenge men at every level.  This is nothing more than gender antagonism that is promoted by men’s rights advocates. This hostility is attempt for one group to either impose patriarchy or matriarchy on society. If gender bias were their real concern they would favor a sex equality movement rather than feminism or men’s rights . While women in some countries have made progress in business, science, and politics there is one arena that power feminists want to infiltrate. Sports and the fitness world are areas they want to compete with men directly. Some claim that women’s divisions in sports is an example of sex segregation and differences in women’s performances are sociologically based. The power feminists think that women’s lack of physical strength is the only aspect that is holding them back. This view point has multiple problems.It assumes that all men are stronger than all women and that is how men maintain control . Society is controlled by economic and political structures, which women have been excluded from in various periods of history. The hostility to basic anatomical and physiological science mirrors religious fundamentalist hatred of evolution. Prior to puberty girls and boys are similar in their physical fitness capacities.

Puberty Growth Pattern

Boys and girls development

The changes in the endocrine system alter the bodies of girls and boys. While boys are slower to develop , ultimately they become larger in size and have more muscle mass. By the end of the process males have 150 % more muscle mass and twice as many muscle cells compared to women. Lung and heart size also effect aerobic capacity with men having more hemoglobin. The bone, ligament, and tendons are larger adding to total body strength. Women’s physical capacity would not match that of the highest performing males. There are exceptions to this, due to the fact there is variation in human populations. These developments are a part of sexual dimorphism. While it can not be ignored that there are sociological factors such as body image, access to exercise facilities, and lack of opportunity  that contribute to a difference in women’s athletic performance biology does play a role. The highest performing women still do not perform to the level of the highest performing men. Having women play with men would eliminate large portions of women form sport. This would be true of sports that involve more upper body strength such as weightlifting or boxing. If a woman is strong and skilled enough to play on a men’s team there should be no reason to prohibit her from doing so. Power feminists have brought up perspectives that contradict proven scientific knowledge.

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There are sports that have already have done mixed competitions. Tennis, korfball, race car driving,  and bodybuilding have done competitions in which have male and female players together.This has not generated any controversy of any kind. It should be realized that the physically fit woman would be stronger than the average man. Considering that it would seem the goal of physical equality has been achieved. Women participate in  just about every sport that exists.

The biggest problem is having equal coverage and sponsorship in media outlets. That seems to be the biggest challenge to women’s sports. The internet has helped in many ways in which the older media outlets have not.  Media coverage and fair portrayals could improve the financial situation in women’s sports. Women’s divisions are not sex segregation in the vein of apartheid South Africa or Jim Crow America. They were made so that women have a fair chance at athletic competition. It is the same for weight divisions. This is not discrimination against smaller people, but making sure they can compete on an equal basis. A 120 pound woman would be at disadvantage against a woman who 150 pounds in a particular athletic contests.

   There are other factor that are are part of athletic performance which include skill, speed, and experience. This could possible negate some of the advantages, but not all of them. The strongest women would struggle to compete with the strongest men. The desire to compete with men in that sense does not seem possible, despite power feminist  rhetoric.

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This book asks can women be equal as long as men are stronger? Well it should be noted inequality had nothing to do with strength. Property ownership, job security, and education were out of reach for women. The lack of freedom and independence kept women subordinate.

The reason for this perspective is that women of think like this believe that men would use their strength to violently subjugate women. Self defense and strict laws against domestic violence can prevent such events from occurring. Part of this is overcoming some women’s fear of men. There may be an element of internalized self hatred that induces an inferiority complex. This may explain why some women may feel the need to constantly prove themselves, even when it is clear they have ability. There could be a small and extremist section of power feminist who seek to see men treated awfully. They merely want to acquire power form themselves with the intention of abusing it. It seems that the power feminists have a desire to replace patriarchy not with an equal society, but with matriarchy. This is the wrong pathway and has caused many to reject feminism entirely. Women who even believe in women’s rights do not want to use that label. The stereotypes of angry woman or man hater then appear constantly in media, which also causes people to reject the ideology.

Rational arguments and debate is what is needed in society. It is not sexist to say that men are stronger than women . It is misogynistic to say this gives men the right to rule over women. This is why physical equality is a bizarre concept. There are obviously men that are stronger than other men and women who are stronger than most men. Equality does not meaning being the same. People vary in their abilities and talents, but that does not mean any one group is superior. Maybe the term physical equality is more of a misnomer. The accurate description is that women are gaining the benefits fitness and  control of  their bodies.

       Amazon feminism is having an impact on society. The vision of heroic womanhood is emphasized in the acts and bodies of women of great physical strength. There is a new image of power that celebrates sportswomen, soldiers, astronauts, firefighters, and women of great power. It has cultural roots in ancient myth and modern day pop culture .The amazons of ancient myth were warrior women who lived in societies apart from men. These myths did not always glorify the bravery and strength of women. Scholars of literature and the classics believe it was a way to deter women from independence. Greek myths have male heroes either defeat or kill amazons in most of their adventures. Hercules combated amazons and specifically to Hippolyta’s girdle. Theseus was said in one Greek myth to have encountered the amazon queen. One version was that he was able to abduct and marry her after being defeated in war. Another notable myth was that of Achilles and Penthesila during the Trojan War. Achilles kills her and falls in love with her. He lamented what he had done sobbing over her cadaver. The creation of the amazon in myth represents man’s desire for a strong woman, but also simultaneous fear . There have been cases in which women warriors have appeared in history in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. It is only now that nations are officially letting women in combat positions. The image of powerful female is radical because at no point in history has it been so visible. This is the first time in history women have developed themselves physically to a maximum extent.

There is a slow, but gradual acceptance of women developing themselves in a way that was not considered appropriate. As women gain more freedom and independence, they no longer fear doing something that challenges traditional culture. The most fascinating element is that strength and physical power are no longer considered a male only attribute.Women who are strong are not considered unfeminine. While their resistance to change, it is clear it cannot be stopped. As for popular culture, there are more female heroes that appear on television and film. Women characters are becoming more diverse in personality and roles. It seemed that the only role was the commonly used trope of damsel in distress. Wonder Woman one of DC’s popular characters was one of the first successful female  superheroes. Other existed before, but none reached a high level of success.  The new type of female character is no one dimensional and does not need male assistance to complete a task.

      While there is change in the world of entertainment and fiction, there has been in perception. There are a group of men who are finding the idea strong woman attractive. Although there is not a specific number, the physically fit woman has gained attention. The internet has given the female athlete more exposure. Although the traditional media outlets such as television have failed to cover their sports, athletes can use social media to  promote their sports and themselves.Maybe these women could be considered modern amazons. To say that women were victims of man-made or biological circumstances does not seem to be accurate. It is just that women now have more control of their own bodies. Yet, there still is a battle for women to maintain basic reproductive rights. Access to contraception and abortion are still out of reach for many women in the world. The last stage of  women’s complete liberation is control of the body. Relevant to the amazon feminism concept, women are choosing how they should. Societal beauty standards are ignored in favor of a woman’s own version of beauty. This emphasis on fitness and exercise had a positive effect on women ‘s health.  Diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease are risks to women in later life. Title IX was a major opportunity for women to get involved in sports, but it as became an important measure in public health. As more women engage in exercise and physical fitness activities this has changed how women view their health and image. Most importantly, it done for themselves rather than to please men or satisfy society.

The female athletic body is making an appearance in sports magazines and advertisements. This mainstream exposure is becoming larger, even though many do not seem to notice.  There could also be some boost from a loose movement of body acceptance. It is not just the presence of female athletes, but women are now more active in gyms. There women in personal training and their are women’s only operated facilities. This however is not even distributed. Nations that are developed economically  have more time for leisure compared to one attempting to modernize or industrialize. There is a female fitness culture that is developing and it is having an international reach.

      Human evolution produced immense variety in the world’s population. This can be said of human body size. Sexual dimorphism could be the result of sex selection and environment. Early primates may have selected mates based on particular features. Therefore propagating sets of genes. An environment with more food would mean better nutrition and more growth. The more fossils discovered the more humanity learns about  itself. The genus homo had other members which included homo erectus, homo habilis, homo rudofensis, homo floresiensis, homo neanderthalensis, homo heidelbergensis, homo antecessor, homo nadeli,  and homo sapiens. All these organisms had sexual dimorphism. The fact that males were stronger did not account for the rise in inequality. This can be discredited, because there could have been women stronger than men but did not seek to inflict violence or domination.

 

 Hunter gatherer communities needed the labor of both men and women. These societies required more collaboration. There was not a system of hierarchy that labelled people as subordinates or lower status. With the rise of agriculture, permanent settlements, and land ownership this created the inequality that persists to present. Women were excluded from this process by law and discrimination. The formation of government also contributed to societal inequality. Civil and human rights are a relatively new concept to human history. The citizen of the ancient to medieval past had limited legal protection from the state. Human evolution proves that their is no inferior group of people. Men, women, and people of different ethnic backgrounds belong to one human species. While it is difficult for religious fanatics and racists  to accept this, it is more puzzling why some third wave feminists also reject science in a similar fashion.

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Sex differences or understanding sexual dimorphism is not being anti-woman. There exists a faction of third wave feminist who see it as endorsing the idea of male supremacy. This wrong if anything the study of biology, physiology, anthropology, and anatomy prove that female inferiority is a myth. These critics often confuse actual science with social darwinism  and eugenics. These ideas born out of Europe and North America were produced by individuals who were not even scientists themselves or scientists that were motivated by political agendas based on their prejudices during the late 19th to mid 20th century. Such mendacious theories could not sustain the process of the scientific method. One should not confuse being the same with being equal. The reason why the human population is diverse is that it protects from genetically inherited diseases. This may explain why humanity has become such a successful species. When some see a strong woman they say it is “unnatural.”  Nature is in fact very random, erratic, and unpredictable. Ecosystems can change and human beings are still evolving. What is natural could just be relative. Women come in all shapes and sizes, which is just part of natural human variation.

The concept of body image distorts what bodies can be and  what they should look like. Everyone will look different, however there is a drive to present beauty or what is natural as one paradigm. Women’s biology is not a barrier to advancement. It is the societal structures surrounding law, politics, and finance which keep women in a subordinate position. When barriers to education, employment,  and equal justice are removed then women can advance in society.

       Biological and sex differences are not barriers to equality, but human made institutions are.  Amazon feminism may not be as notable as other ideological factions of feminism such as the socialist, radical, or liberal version. This body of thought has had an impact on world culture as more societies across the globe want to mobilize women in the economy and public sphere.  The march of progress is slow and transformation will come. There is another battle that remains and it is women gaining full control of their bodies. This has been historically denied to them with lack of contraception or reproductive rights. This has been challenged in nations in the West and continues through out the world. Not only did women not have control of the state of their reproductive health, body image was rigidly defined. Through out history men were dictating beauty standards to women. Now there are a portion of women defining it for themselves. Women are embracing an image of strength and it is more visible. It is a small movement in the sports and fitness world. Women are discovering the benefits of physical skill and prowess more so than in the past. Amazon feminism can be considered  more of a cultural revolution rather than a political one. The image of woman has been changed forever.

Amazon Feminism Erasing Biology as A Barrier to Equality

Do Female Athletes Have To Train Harder To Reach a Particular Physical Fitness Level ?

It is common knowledge that the body of the female athlete differs biologically and physiologically from male athletes. This has implications on training and athletic performance. Women have certain obstacles they have to overcome to achieve a particular physical fitness level depending on which sport they play. Due to differences in body composition, cardiovascular fitness, endocrinology, and bone density women have to work harder in terms of training. The assumption is sports are too rigorous for the female body to withstand. This is not true scientifically. While performance levels are not as high as a male athlete on the same regimen, relative to their starting point women can achieve immense physical fitness gains. The common misconception is that women train more and show little from it. At the cellular level, there is no difference between male and female muscle and bone tissue. Histology has proven this, but myths about the physical limitations of women’s bodies still remain. The only difference is women will have to train harder to reach their peak physical fitness level.

       The reason it becomes harder for women to reach a physical fitness target for athletic performance is related to puberty. Prior to puberty body composition and skeletal structure is not that different for women. Estrogen and progesterone are produced at higher levels resulting in more body fat rather than muscle mass. Girls see their growth spurt at ages 10 to 11. Girls by age 18 have reached their full height, while boys finish growing by age 20. Women do not gain the strength spurt that comes from androgens in males. Total muscle mass and bone density are lower, which means this has implications for training. When the pelvis widens this also effects women’s running speed. As girls mature into women, they may find they cannot run as fast before. However, once the body has done maturing it is possible to reach higher running speeds. Female athletes have to beware of the triad, which can effect health if one over trains. Although it seems puberty increases men’s physical fitness peak, there are advantages to higher body fat levels. Fat can be useful in long distance swimming allowing for more bouncy . When the this stage of the human life cycle is over, the female body will be rounder and smaller.

       Muscular strength is essential to athletic performance. A novice female athlete will have to incorporate weight training into her regimen to gain strength. Women have lower levels of natural strength to begin with, which means it will take longer to reach a particular goal. One would assume that women do not respond to training stimuli, but that is far from the truth. Seeing as the muscular system is the same for women and men, muscle fibers will respond to exercise resulting in muscular hypertrophy. The difference is in extent and initial starting point. Women start off with less muscular strength, but relative to their size they can make significant progress. Men’s absolute strength is higher due to function of testosterone in the body and generally larger size. Women in particular will find it more difficult to build upper body strength rather than lower body strength. The reason is due to narrow shoulders, which means less area to house muscle on the upper body. Sports that require upper body strength, women have to train this area the hardest. Biceps, triceps, and the pectoralis major are areas the female athlete will find the most difficult to develop. Women have a harder time building muscle due to endocrinology. To achieve a certain level heavy lifting is required for a long period of time  and  supplements. Women with mesomorphic body types are at an advantage in building muscle. Women of endomorphic and ectomorphic body types will struggle. This does not mean they cannot increase their physical fitness level. Depending on the sport there are certain types of muscle fibers that are more helpful. Type II muscle fibers are great for sports that require explosive power. Weightlifting and rugby would be great examples. Sports like marathon running type I muscle fibers are more helpful in maintaining the necessary endurance.

There is not a perfect system of training, but there are different methods that can be used. Isotonic training requires both free weights or machines. Doing concentric and eccentric muscle contractions happen during this type of training. Isokentic training involves overloading muscle at various points during a range of motion. The resistance can change on the force exerted. During the process the speed of contraction is controlled. This can either be done at slow or rapid pace. Women’s muscles due respond to training. Overload can cause micro trauma in the muscle and make it rebuild stronger. Metabolism differs for women,but more muscle will burn fat. However, even the most muscular woman still retains a higher body fat percentage. Women can build muscle, it just will be more of a challenge. The training sessions have to be consistent.

When the muscles are not trained they atrophy. This means women who do training irregularly would lose more of their gains strength due to physiological differences. At minimum, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends two sessions a week including 12 repetitions for each exercise. The number of repetitions can increase for a particular exercise, but it is suggested not to work the same muscle group two days in a row. If there is no struggle in lifting, then the muscle is not being challenged. The muscle must be gradually worked up to higher load volumes to increase strength. Women’s muscular potential and training effort  thus depends on several factors. Genetic endowment,  training methods, substances used ( supplements or performance enhancing drugs), and total time in training sessions. Women’s muscles can become stronger, but amount and  body composition are a factor in total strength.

          Cardiovascular fitness is also another challenge in regards to training. Women have smaller hearts and lungs, which means they would have to work harder for total aerobic output. Oxygen is essential to aerobic energy. Muscle cells need oxygen for energy. The heart is a beating muscle and its strength contributes to the delivery oxygen to the muscle tissues. Cardiac output is the product of both heart rate and stroke volume. Stroke volume shows the amount of blood pumped per beat. Oxygen transport can be modified through aerobic conditioning. A training regimen must focus on frequency, duration, intensity, and mode of exercise.

 

There is a difference is VO2max in regards to women. The female athlete must take into consideration certain factors. Body composition effects the VO2max  due to the fact body fat is not active metabolically. This causes more energy to be spent in the total body reserve. Hemoglobin levels are 10% lower in women runners. This protein is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs directly to muscle tissue. This means training frequency and intensity is essential to improving aerobic performance. Women through proper training stimulus could at least a 25% increase in VO2max. Women athletes may have to train at least six times a week to see a difference in aerobic levels. Training more than recommended will not produce better results. This comes down to the level of intensity during training sessions. Intensity describes how hard an athlete exercises. Exercise duration should range from 15 to 60 minutes. It appears in races women may be better at pacing themselves in the longer term. This could men men and women fatigue differently. A study released in 2015 discovered something about women’s fatigue during marathon races. When examining marathon paces women slowed down 11.5 % compared to men’s 15.6 %. The men tended to take rapid pace, while women adjusted to a slower pace causing slower fatigue. The problem is most research on athletic performance has been done on men and there are still discoveries to be made to see how to best train the female athlete.

         Generally athletic training requires the enhancement of  the muscular, cardiovascular, the skeletal system,  and nervous system. Movement requires the nerve cells to produce impulses for locomotion. The body using all these organ systems is out putting energy. Power out put is critical when performing a physically demanding task. This strength and cardiovascular reserve women have to use more of. The difference in javelin throwing is 30% according to Olympic records. Yet the 100 meter sprint is only a 10% difference. This demonstrates in which areas women have to use more of their physical power reserve. The upper body including the shoulders and neck have less muscle. So women would have to work harder to provide the necessary force in that area of the body.

Running would require less of the force output, because this area is only effected by the shape of the pelvis. This also reduces running speed besides differences in VO2max. What this means is that women would have to train their upper body more for sports such as tennis, golf, cricket, boxing, or weightlifting. Maximum physical force is needed to complete the athletic task. Having a reserve of energy, prevents exhaustion and fatigue. Women would have to use more of their physical potential to complete an athletic task. A woman running a 100 metres in 11 seconds would have to use 100 percent of her potential. To hit a gold ball a female golfer would have to use 90% of her maximum force compared to 60% of a male golfer. Given the same task in terms of athletic objective, women must utilize more force.

This means women have to use more energy to produce close results of a male athlete. The gap in physical fitness levels narrows in athletic populations, however sports performance of women does not match exactly that of men. There can be overlap, but is very small given the total aggregate. The physiological, biological, and anatomical differences explain why the athletic performance gap may not be closed. Yet, it could be in the future narrowed if there are not social or cultural barriers preventing women from gaining access to training facilities. Further study is needed to fully explore how to increase women’s athletic performance.

         Training stimuli has a different effect on the male and female body. The response differs sue to the function of the endocrine system. Men produce more testosterone from the testes and the leydig cells present in that organ of the reproductive system. A female athlete can acquire muscle and strength, but will still maintain a higher body fat percentage. One should not assume that men’s muscles are better, its just more present relative to body composition.

This difference also explains the difference in sports injuries. Women athletes have higher injury rates in the knees and shoulder areas. Less muscle and skeletal mass in the upper body makes it more vulnerable. Anterior cruciate ligament tears are common in female athletes. Looser joints may enhance flexibility, but make them susceptible to tears. The more demanding the athletic competition and higher physical demand the higher likelihood of injury for women. That is why weight training and general strength conditioning should be part of any female athlete’s training program. It is essential that bone and muscle mass be built to help with sustaining various forces and impacts from athletic competition. Tendons and ligaments are also strengthened through a weight training regime. Besides these sex specific considerations, female athletes have the same challenges as their male counter parts such as exercise associated hyponatremia, career ending injuries, and keeping motivated under stress.

        Women athletes have to train harder to reach peak physical fitness. Sexual dimorphism effects the physiological function of the body of a woman, which has implications of athletic potential. This does not mean the female body is biologically inferior, but different. As seen by the impressive women who have competed in various sports both internationally and in their native nation-states their bodies are far from frail. While some myths still persist, science has proven them incorrect. For many years it was thought that women were too physically weak to handle the demands of athletic competition. Now it is known that women can benefit from exercise and sports competition. Relative to women’s initial physical fitness starting point, they have more to gain. Physical activity benefits women in terms of bone and circulatory system health. Women may have to work harder, but the rewards are still just a plentiful. When the peak physical fitness level is reached an athlete has to focus on developing skill. When beginning competition certain factors must be taken into consideration. Training regimens should not only be designed in regards to sex specific differences, but tailored to an individual’s unique physiology.

 

References

Gurthie, Sharon. Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Long Beach,

CA : Human Kinetics, 1994 .

Netto, Kevin. “Should Women Athletes Earn the Same as Men? The Science Says They Work as Hard.” The Conversation, The Conversation , 9 Aug. 2017, theconversation.com/should-women-athletes-earn-the-same-as-men-the-science-says-they-work-as-hard-57210.

Netto , Kevin. “Female Athletes Work Harder than Men, and Science Can Prove It.” SBS.com, The Conversation , 1 Aug. 2016, http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/zela/article/2016/08/01/female-athletes-work-harder-men-and-science-can-prove-it.

Do Female Athletes Have To Train Harder To Reach a Particular Physical Fitness Level ?