By Health In Five Writer
An analysis of more than 100,000 participants over a 30-year follow-up period found that adults who perform two to four times the currently recommended amount of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week have a significantly reduced risk of mortality, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship, peer-reviewed journal Circulation. The reduction was 21-23% for people who engaged in two to four times the recommended amount of vigorous physical activity, and 26-31% for people who engaged in two to four times the recommended amount of moderate physical activity each week.
It is well documented that regular physical activity is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. In 2018, the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommended that adults engage in at least 150-300 minutes/week of moderate physical activity or 75-150 minutes/week of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both intensities.
“The potential impact of physical activity on health is great, yet it remains unclear whether engaging in high levels of prolonged, vigorous or moderate intensity physical activity above the recommended levels provides any additional benefits or harmful effects on cardiovascular health,” said Dong Hoon Lee, Sc.D., M.S., a research associate in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Our study leveraged repeated measures of self-reported physical activity over decades to examine the association between long-term physical activity during middle and late adulthood and mortality.”
The analysis found that adults who performed double the currently recommended range of either moderate or vigorous physical activity each week had the lowest long-term risk of mortality.
The analysis also found:
- Participants who met the guidelines for vigorous physical activity had an observed 31% lower risk of CVD mortality and 15% lower risk of non-CVD mortality, for an overall 19% lower risk of death from all causes.
- Participants who met the guidelines for moderate physical activity had an observed 22-25% lower risk of CVD mortality and 19-20% lower risk of non-CVD mortality, for an overall 20-21% lower risk of death from all causes.
- Participants who performed two to four times above the recommended amount of long-term vigorous physical activity (150-300 min/week) had an observed 27-33% lower risk of CVD mortality and 19% non-CVD mortality, for an overall 21-23% lower risk of death from all causes.
- Participants who performed two to four times above the recommended amount of moderate physical activity (300-600 min/week) had an observed 28-38% lower risk of CVD mortality and 25-27% non-CVD mortality, for an overall 26-31% lower risk of mortality from all causes.
In addition, no harmful cardiovascular health effects were found among the adults who reported engaging in more than four times the recommended minimum activity levels. Previous studies have found evidence that long-term, high-intensity, endurance exercise, such as marathons, triathlons and long-distance bicycle races, may increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including myocardial fibrosis, coronary artery calcification, atrial fibrillation and sudden cardiac death.
“This finding may reduce the concerns around the potential harmful effect of engaging in high levels of physical activity observed in several previous studies,” Lee noted.