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Physical Exercise Is Beneficial, but More Intense Exercise Is Better

Any form of physical activity is beneficial for your health, but a recent study published in Nature Medicine found that more intense exercise is best.

Woman Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is good for health, but more intense activity has better benefits, according to a study published on August 18 in Nature Medicine.

Physical exercise of any intensity is beneficial for health, but more intense is the exercise greater is the benefit, according to a study, ‘Wearable-device-measured physical activity and future health risk‘ published August 18 in the journal Nature Medicine

A team led by scientists at the Medical Research Council (MRC), in the University of Cambridge analyzed data from 96,476 UK Biobank participants (mean age 62 years, 56% female). All participants wore a research-grade accelerometer on their dominant wrist as a part of the participation criteria in the study.

The equipment was devised for tracking types of physical movement such as low, moderate, or vigorous. Those types of devices were never used before on large-scale research to determine if more intense exercise is better for health.

Woman Physical Exercise

During the study, the researcher collected data on the duration and intensity of movement from the devices and calculated the total volume of activity, which was expressed as physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE). They also calculated PAEE accumulated from moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA).

In the study, the scientists observed that the UK Biobank participants had an average PAEE of 40 kJ/kg/day, over the median 3.1-year follow-up period. During the follow-up period, they recorded 732 deaths. 

They found that higher PAEE was associated with a lower proportion of mortality for a constant fraction of MVPA. For example, participants who accumulated 20 kJ/kg/day were 21% less likely to die compared to those who gathered 15 kJ/kg/day, when the proportion of moderate-intensity activity was at least 10% in both cases.

Similarly, a higher MVPA fraction was associated with a lower proportion of death when PAEE remained constant. For example, participants were 30% less likely to die when they accumulated 20% MVPA compared to 10% MVPA from a fixed PAEE 15 kJ/kg/day. 

The results show that doing more activity of any intensity is beneficial, but expending those calories in more intense exercise was still better —stated one of the authors Dr Tessa.

Related Publication

Strain, T., K. Wijndaele, et al. (2020). “Wearable-device-measured physical activity and future health risk.” Nature Medicine 26(9): 1385-1391.



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