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“The main thing to see about female athletes is that they are always at the top of their field and there’s no one on the floor that you won’t be able to dance with,” said Kristin Pangborn, an exercise physiologist and physical education specialist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Pangborn is in her second year of research at the School of Health and Human Sciences at Iowa University in Iowa City and has been studying women athletes. In one of her studies, she studied how male and female athletes’ bodies react to training, weight-training and dieting. She found that female athletes do very well on all of these tests, as well as endurance training and running a marathon. However, they didn’t run as fast as their male counterparts.
Pangborn’s research suggests that women perform better while training and have better muscle mass than men.
There was not enough data to be able to analyze the effects of weight-training on testosterone levels throughout the lifespan, Pangborn said, but her results suggest athletes’ performance and hormone levels also seem to be influenced by their training.
“I haven’t got the resources that men do, particularly since I’ve only been doing this for a couple of years, but I would say women probably benefit from training as much as men do,” she said.
Some of these effects, such as muscle mass and overall body composition, could help athletes compete in women’s sports more competitively, especially after Olympic trials. “We really don’t have a good idea as yet whether there is anything that male athletes are going to improve on when they begin competing or whether females can,” Pangborn said.
“The big picture here is that when you compare how an athlete performs in the first half of their career versus as they age, that translates into a difference in athletic performance,” she said.
Although the researchers couldn’t examine the results of male versus female athletes who were on steroids to see how the testosterone exposure affected performance, Pangborn and colleagues do know that the hormone plays a role in female athletes’ performance.
The study findings could lead to more research on ways women can increase their athletic performance in women’s sports by boosting testosterone levels, Pangborn said. She pointed out that the hormone could actually help women with performance impairments and could increase their muscle mass.
However, Pangborn also
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