According to a new study published in Nature Medicine, physical activity of any intensity is very good for health, but more intense activity has shown greater benefits. The team conducted the largest study of accelerometer-measured physical activity to date and analyzed data from more than 96,000 UK Biobank participants.
Scientists recommend that adults should actively participate in some form of activity every day. Every week, you should undertake 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (equivalent to a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of strenuous intensity activity (such as running).
Previous research has observed that moderate and vigorous-intensity activity provides more significant health benefits than light-intensity activity. But it has not been particularly explicit if this is because it requires a greater contribution to the overall amount of physical activity, or if it includes additional health benefits beyond this.
Researchers face challenges because the low energy, the incidental movement that grows in the course of commonplace activities, is tough to recall precisely and consequently complex to measure using questionnaires.
Wearable devices have facilitated better detection of this type of movement, creating the bulk of our daily physical activity. But until now, studies have not been conducted on a vast scale to determine if the more intense activity generates a contribution to health, distinct from increasing total volume.
The researchers collected data from 96,476 middle-aged adults in Great Britain to examine whether the activity of moderate-intensity or above helped to lessen the risk of death over and above its contribution to the full volume of activity. For a week, these individuals wore a research-grade activity tracker on their dominant wrist as part of their participation in the UK Biobank study.
The researchers investigated if physical activity levels were related to the risk of death in the follow-up period of, on average, 3.1 years. 732 of the 96, 476 participants died during the research. The researchers excluded those who died within the first year from their study and took prevailing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer into account as these might undermine physical activity.
The results showed that expending more energy of any intensity was highly linked with a lower risk of death over the following three years.
Participants who accumulated 20 kJ/kg/day through physical exercise were a third less likely to die than those who gathered 15 kJ/kg/day. It was calculated that the distribution from the least moderate-intensity activity was 10% in both cases. The supplementary activity is equivalent to a 35-minute stroll, with an extra two minutes at a speedier pace.
Those who accumulated 30 kJ/kg/day were about half as prone to die in the follow-up span compared to those who accumulated 15 kJ/kg/day. Also, here too, the proportion from at least moderate-intensity activity was 10% in both cases.
However, if this quantity of 30 kJ/kg/day consisted of 30% from at least moderate-intensity activity, they were only about a quarter likely to die. The disparity between this scenario and the reference of 15 kJ/kg/day and 10% is tantamount to an hour’s stroll plus 35 minutes at a quicker pace.