Could High Intensity Exercise Be a Key to Longer Life?

A recent study suggests vigorous exercise may help boost life expectancy

When it comes to exercise, it seems researchers are discovering new health benefits all the time. Each month there are new studies published that point to the reduced risk of disease, the mental benefits and the longer lifespan that usually come with the right amount—and the right kind—of exercise.

The major remaining questions then are how much exercise should we be getting and does it matter what kind?

A big study was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine and it addressed the two questions above. In the study, Australian researchers looked at data on 200,000 adults to determine the amount of time people spent exercising, how much of that was intense exercise and what effect that had on their lifespan.

After checking the death records, they found that those meeting the recommended amount of exercise (150 minutes per week) significantly reduced their risk of premature death, regardless of the type of exercise they were getting.

Looking deeper, the same researchers also discovered an additional benefit for those who fit in some intense exercise. People who spent up to 30 percent of their weekly exercise doing intense physical activity were 9 percent less likely to suffer premature death. Those who managed to engage in intense exercise for more than 30 percent of their weekly total saw a 13 percent boost in life expectancy over those who didn’t exercise vigorously. There was no significant data to show that any amount of intense exercise was dangerous to life expectancy.

While this study relied on people’s memory of their exercise, it still supports a strong correlation between intense exercise and longevity. The researchers suggest that anyone who can manage should make an effort to exercise for at least 150 minutes each week and also try to fit in some intense exercise for the extra boost.