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Vigorous activity may help avoid early death – study

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Even small amounts of vigorous activity, the kind that makes you breathe harder and sweat, could help reduce your risk of early death, claims a large Australian study of middle-age and older adults.

The results, published in the United States journal JAMA Internal Medicine, were based on 204,542 people who were followed for more than six years. During the study period, more than 7,400 deaths were registered.

Compared with those who reported zero physical activity, those who reported up to 149 minutes per week of physical activity had a 34 per cent reduced risk for dying, and the reduced risk was 47 per cent for those who reported up to 299 minutes per week of physical activity, and 54 per cent among those who reported 300 minutes per week or more of physical activity.

 

mortality risk

 

More important, the risk of mortality for those who included some vigorous activity such as jogging, aerobics or competitive tennis, was nine to 13 per cent lower, compared with those who only undertook moderate activity, such as gentle swimming, social tennis, or household chores.

"The benefits of vigorous activity applied to men and women of all ages, and were independent of the total amount of time spent being active," said lead author Klaus Gebel from James Cook University's Center for Chronic Disease Prevention.

"The results indicate that whether or not you are obese, and whether or not you have heart disease or diabetes, if you can manage some vigorous activity, it could offer significant benefits for longevity."

Co-author Ding Ding, from University of Sydney's School of Public Health, said the results indicated that vigorous activities should be more strongly encouraged in clinical and public-health guidelines.

 

current advice

 

The current advice from the World Health Organization and health authorities in countries - including the US, Britain and Australia is for adults to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

"The guidelines leave individuals to choose their level of exercise intensity, or a combination of levels, with two minutes of moderate exercise considered the equivalent of one minute of vigorous activity," Ding said.

"It might not be the simple two-for-one swap that is the basis of the current guidelines. Our research indicates that encouraging vigorous activities may help to avoid preventable deaths at an earlier age."

The researchers cautioned that older people and those with medical conditions should talk to their doctor before engaging in vigorous exercise.