Monday, September 19, 2011

Intense workouts make you live much longer

Despite the common belief that for the effectiveness of exercise, length is the most important factor, Danish researchers have discovered that it is in fact the intensity of the workout that is most beneficial for your health. A study on cyclists shows that men who ride their bike with high intensity live longer than men who cycle with a low intensity: the difference is on average a stunning 5.3 years. Cyclists with moderate intensity live 2.9 years longer than their low intensity counterparts. The differences for the female groups are 3.9 and 2.2 years longer respectively.

In addition, the scientist also found a seemingly large difference in incidence of coronary heart disease between the high and low intensity groups. People who cycle with low intensity have a far greater risk of developing this form of heart disease. The results, added together, are remarkable: normally, exercise recommendations are focused on duration, rather than intensity. The Danish study changes the way we perceive exercise, as an average increase in life span of 5.3 years by simply increasing the intensity of your workout seems easily gained. Currently, it is advised to spend at least 30 minutes a day on physical activity, while intensity is most often not given any attention or relevance.

Of course, low intensity workouts are better than doing nothing. I reckon the difference in life span between couch potatoes and people who take a daily leisurely 30 minute walk is also quite significant. In addition, for people that wish to lose weight, it is probably better to focus on duration, rather than intensity. Getting rid of obesity is, albeit for different reasons, also something that will, on average, improve your life span.

The researchers report they have found the same outcome in life span increase when comparing walking intensity. The measurement for intensity is based on the participants' own judgement, and the outcome has been adjusted for possible co-founders such as age of the participants, and risk factors that may impact how long people live.

I guess the excuse of not having enough time for exercise is hereby ruled invalid.

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