Physical activity is critical to living a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of exercise are immense. It improves our heart and lung function. It lowers our cholesterol and blood sugar. It increases metabolism to help us lose weight. It improves our sleep and mental health. It helps us learn and concentrate. Bottom line -- it helps us live longer.
The United States Center for Disease Control and the American Heart Association recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity (such as walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week.
We all know more exercise is better. But is moderate intensity or vigorous intensity “better”?
Researchers asked this very question. They took physical activity data from over 403,000 adults from the National Health Interview Survey from 1997-2013 and linked them to the National Death Index records through the end of 2015.
After adjusting for socioeconomic factors, lifestyle risks, and underlying medical conditions, the researchers found that “participants performing greater than 50% to 75% of vigorous physical activity to total physical activity had a 17% lower all-cause mortality.”
They go on to conclude “a higher proportion of vigorous physical activity to total physical activity was associated with lower all-cause mortality. Clinicians and public health interventions should recommend 150 minutes or more per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity but also advise on the potential benefits associated with vigorous physical activity to maximize population health.”