Excellent article on biological differences in sport

An interesting article in Stuff interviewing Otago Physiology Professor Alison Heather on the huge advantage a Y chromosome gives you in sports, and how it isn’t just about your current testosterone level. Some differences are:

  • larger and stronger bones
  • different shaped bones which changes the amount of  force that can be generated by the knee when lifting, jumping, kicking or cycling
  • increased muscle mass and associated power
  • higher percentage of type II muscle fibres, the explosive muscle type
  • early life testosterone exposure in males increases the number of alveoli which have a greater capacity for oxygen uptake
  • male heart can literally pump more blood per beat

She makes the point:

All of these male physiology components are regulated, at least in part, by the male sex hormone, testosterone. However, what is largely misunderstood or ignored by current debate, is it is not just current, circulating levels of testosterone that drive many of these components, but a life-long exposure to testosterone that started in utero, continued in early infancy, and then was cemented during the pubertal years.

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