Exercise lowers the risk of early death. That’s not news. What is news however, is that boosting activity higher can further reduce the risk.
How much is enough
Current recommendations are 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes per week of rigorous activity.
Those standards were challenged in July, with new recommendations for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week, based on research published by the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
As a base of reference, moderate activity is defined as brisk walking, dancing, water aerobics or other activities during which you are able to talk while exercising. Vigorous exercise includes running, cycling or other exercises at a level where maintaining a conversation becomes difficult.
In the analysis at Harvard University of more than 100,000 participants over the course of thirty years, researchers found that adults who engaged in two to four times more than the standard recommended activity level had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease or other heart-related problems.
Athletes who engaged in more than four times the recommended weekly amount of exercise did not see additional health benefits.
Previous studies have found that engaging in high intensity aerobic activity over a prolonged time, such as triathlon, marathon and long-distance cycling, might have adverse cardiovascular events. Based on this new research, that does not appear to be the case.
The study suggested that performing 300 minutes per week of moderate activity or 150 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both, provided the most benefits.
Ramp up activity
We knew that consistent exercise lowers the risk of an early death from cardiovascular disease. We now know that putting in the extra effort to ramp it up from moderate to vigorous exercise is not going to hurt.