Vigorous exercise lowers chances of dying almost 40 percent

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Intense exercise lowers the chances of dying almost 40 percent.

Even some exercise is still better than none to lower the chances of death

Exercise is known to improve health, help maintain weight and improve cardiovascular function. But, how much exercise is enough for maximum health benefit?

Researchers in Germany looked at how much various levels of activity and exercise reduce the chances of dying from chronic disease.

Recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week to maintain health. The researchers looked at how much meeting the WHO guidelines reduced the chances of dying, then compared the results to vigorous exercise and mortality risk.

In their study, scientists at the Centre for Sports Sciences and University Sports of the University of Vienna looked at activity and exercise levels of more than 1.3 million participants.

Included in the meta-analysis were people from Europe, Canada, United States, and Asia. The study was led by Guenther.

The finding showed women benefit from higher levels of leisure time physical activity, compared to men.

The authors found it doesn’t matter how much exercise you get, it just matters that you remain active, whether it’s job, daily living, leisure or active transportation. But, they also found more exercise is better.


Just gardening, walking, housekeeping or riding a bike to the shopping mall was found to benefit mortality risk for women, though the authors aren’t sure why.

For every extra hour of activity added per week, the researchers found a person’s chances of dying from any cause was reduced 4 percent, compared to people who are sedentary.

Dancing, Nordic walking, hiking, jogging and bicycling reduces the chances of dying 6 percent.

But for people who engage in aerobic activities such as jogging, bicycling more than10 mph and sports like tennis and ball playing the overall chances of dying decreased as much as 9 percent for each hours of vigorous exercise added weekly.

People who exercise according to the WHO recommendations were ten percent less likely to die from chronic disease; vigorous exercise more than doubled the survival rates.

More exercise – 300 minutes a week – at high intensity – can reduce the chances of dying 39 percent, found in the European study. The researchers found even moderate exercise lowers mortality risk 19 percent.

For people who have not been exercising at all, Samitz says start slowly and gradually work your way up to more intense exercise to avoid musculoskeletal injury and heart problems. The end result is a longer, disease-free life. The finding showed vigorous exercise can reduce mortality risk by almost 40 percent.

Int. J. Epidemiol. (2011)doi: 10.1093/ije/dyr112
“Domains of physical activity and all-cause mortality: systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis of cohort studies”
Guenther Samitz et al.
September 5, 2011

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