To get more heart health benefits from exercise, it's time to up the intensity

To get more heart health benefits from exercise, it’s time to up the intensity

Why Vigorous Exercise Is a Heart BoosterTrevor Raab

  • A study published in the European journal of the heartexamined nearly 72,000 participants who wore fitness trackers providing data on exercise intensity and found that those with the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease were those who regularly participated in high-intensity activities higher.

  • Vigorous physical activity can be measured by the talk test – you should only be able to say a few words – and just about 15-20 minutes a week has been associated with a reduction in mortality risk of up to 40%.

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. But new research suggests that if you choose only this first option, you may be missing out on a major way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study, published in the European journal of the heart, examined nearly 72,000 participants who wore fitness trackers that provided exercise intensity data. This is important because most large-scale studies of exercise intensity and volume tend to rely on participant questionnaires, according to lead author Paddy Dempsey, Ph.D., researcher at the University of Leicester in the UK.

He said Ride a bike that it is difficult for people to remember all of their activities accurately, especially with everyday tasks not classified as exercise. For example, running to catch the bus would be a form of vigorous-intensity activity, but would likely not be recorded on a self-reported questionnaire.

Using this data, the researchers compared the frequency and intensity of activity to the development of cardiovascular disease over a period of almost seven years. They found that total physical volume was strongly associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and that this link was particularly strong among those who regularly engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Participants with the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease were those who regularly engaged in higher-intensity activities.

Vigorous physical activity of about 15 to 20 minutes per week was associated with up to a 40% reduction in mortality at the end of the follow-up period, compared with those whose exercise volume and intensity were inferior and did not see this advantage.

“What we’ve found is that there are substantial benefits that are well below the currently recommended 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week,” Dempsey said. “Even just 15 minutes can make a difference.”

This is an important point to remember, he added, as previous research suggests that only 20% of middle-aged to older adults report engaging in vigorous exercise for at least 15 minutes. continue. But an exercise session doesn’t have to be continuous, he says.

“Our results show that short episodes lasting up to two minutes, when performed four times a day, were associated with a significantly lower mortality risk,” he said. “These can stimulate the cardiorespiratory system and lead to measurable cardiovascular adaptations.”

Another recent study had similar conclusions. Published in the journal Traffic, and by examining approximately 95,000 participants who wore fitness trackers over a two-year period, researchers found that modest amounts of moderate to vigorous exercise reduced the risk of heart failure, but the more activity participants had. vigorously, the greater the risk reduction.

How can you apply this to your next outing? Definition of moderate-to-vigorous intensity is individualized, per review comment Frontiers in Physiology. A simple way to assess is the talk test – when doing vigorous activity, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing to catch your breath. Using that as a guide, sprinting for at least a few minutes could give your heart a welcome boost and possibly improve your cycling performance as well.

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