You don’t need to slave away at the gym to reap all the benefits, study finds

Oct 08, 2020
It seems like a brisk walk around the block is all you need. Source: Pexels.

If you’ve been slaving away at the gym day after day or increasing your intensity in an attempt to get healthier quicker and stave off an early death, it turns out your extra efforts may be going to waste, and you’re probably better off just going for a brisk walk around the block instead. Well, that seems to be the case after a new study found exercise intensity appears to make no difference when it comes to keeping older adults healthy.

For the study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The BMJ today, Norweigian and Australian scientists set out to evaluate the effect of five years of supervised exercise training compared with recommendations for physical activity on mortality in older adults aged 70 to 77 years.

Their trial involved 1,567 participants, 400 of whom were assigned to two weekly sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), 387 of who were assigned to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), and 780 of whom were asked to follow the Norwegian guidelines for physical activity (control group).

At the end of the five years, the researchers found death rates were the same in all groups. They also found no difference in cardiovascular disease or cancer between the control group and the combined HIIT and MICT groups. For example, the total proportion of participants with cardiovascular disease after five years was 15.6 per cent, with 16 per cent in the control group, 15.3 per cent in the HIIT group and 15 per cent in the MICT group.

“This study suggests that combined MICT and HIIT [have] no effect on all-cause mortality compared with recommended physical activity levels,” the researchers wrote in the study.

We all know that exercise is good for our health, but how much is enough to reap the full benefit? According to Queensland Health, over-60s should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.

Research shows that as little as 30 minutes of exercise per day can reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and stroke, some cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia. It’s also good for your mind, assists in weight management and can improve bone health.

Don’t know where to start? Some examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and gardening. It’s also important to incorporate weight training into your weekly fitness routine. Get active during television commercial breaks by doing some pushups or wall sits.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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