Are Quick Bursts of Vigorous Activity the Key to Longevity?

Although doing any intensity of physical activity is better than doing none, accumulating evidence suggests that vigorous exercise at a higher intensity gives us more bang for the buck than easy, lower-intensity workouts—in half the time or less. For example, a recent study (Dempsey et al., 2022) found that an ambling 14-minute stroll has roughly the same cardiovascular benefits as an uptempo seven-minute walk at a brisk pace. This study included 88,412 older adults with a mean age of 62. On average, participants’ weekly exercise habits were tracked for 6.8 years.

“Our study shows that it’s not just the amount of activity, but also the intensity, that is important for cardiovascular health,” first author Paddy Dempsey said in an October 2022 news release. “Increasing the total volume of physical activity is not the only way to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. Raising the intensity was also particularly important, while increasing both was optimal.”

Quick Bouts of Vigorous Exercise Increase Longevity in Less Time: Another new study (Ahmadi et al., 2022) on the benefits of short bouts of physical activity found that quick bursts of vigorous physical activity throughout the day can lower older adults’ risk of premature death by 16% to 27%, depending on daily frequency and weekly totals.

Excerpted from Psychology Today

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