Any serious commitment to longevity must factor in regular exercise. That’s because exercise brings a host of health benefits, including a reduced risk of chronic disease. Research has long unenumerated the benefits of working out, but what is less well understood is the contribution exercise intensity has on longevity.
A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine suggested vigorous activity provides the greatest benefit.
Researchers looked at a cohort study that included more than 403,000 adults from the National Health Interview Survey, which ran from 1997 to 2013, and they selected data on self-reported physical activity.
The key finding was that those who had a higher ratio of vigorous physical activity to total amount of exercise showed a lower risk of early death from all causes.
This means that they were more likely to outlive those who didn’t incorporate more intense exercise in their routines.
What’s more, the study also suggested the duration of vigorous exercise provides further benefits.
Researchers found that 150 minutes of vigorous activity a week conferred the greatest benefits.
What counts as vigorous exercise?
Vigorous intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast.
As the NHS explains, if you’re working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.
“In general, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity,” says the health body.
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As it points out, most moderate activities can become vigorous if you increase your effort.
Examples of vigorous activities:
- Jogging or running
- Swimming fast
- Riding a bike fast or on hills
- Walking up the stairs
- Sports, like football, rugby, netball and hockey
- Skipping rope
- Martial arts.
Other key tips
Regular exercise should be accompanied by a healthy diet to maximise longevity benefits.
For example, a healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease – a major killer worldwide – and stop you gaining weight, reducing your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Everyone should aim for a well balanced diet. As the British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains, “faddy” crash diets may not provide the balance of nutrients you need.
According to the BHF, the best way to understand it is to think of foods in food groups.
Try to eat:
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables
- Plenty of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible
- Some milk and dairy products
- Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein.
In addition to increasing your intake of heart-healthy items, you should shun unhealthy items, such as unsaturated fat.
As the British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains, too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Unsaturated fats, which can be monounsaturated fats (for example olive oil, rapeseed oil, almonds, unsalted cashews and avocado) are a healthier choice, says the BHF.
You should also watch your salt intake because eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure – a precursor to heart disease.
Adults should eat no more than six grams of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that’s around one teaspoon, advises the NHS.
Published at Wed, 17 Feb 2021 18:15:00 +0000