While it’s been known that exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, the precise quantity needed on a daily or weekly basis remains unknown. However, new research published in the journal British Journal of Sports Medicine has shed some light on the curious relationship between physical activity and lower mortality risk, revealing several interesting points of correlation.
According to the study, which used metabolic equivalent for a task (MET) as a gauge, it was found that, with the current recommended level of physical activity (750 MET min/week, around four hours of weightlifting or strength training per week), mortality risk lowered when exercise levels increased across the week. The study found that physical activity levels exceeding these recommendations, approximately 5000 MET min/week, was the most effective volume of exercise. This equates to around eight hours of strength training across the week.
Currently, UK guidelines recommend adults engage in around 150 minutes of moderate exercise — a brisk walk falls under this term — each week for optimal cardiovascular health, which equates to around 500 METs per week.
MET estimates the amount of energy used by the body during physical activity, compared against resting metabolism. This unit is often used so it can apply to people of varying body weight and compare different activities or types of exercise.
Other research has found that intense physical activity can drastically lower a person’s risk of serious diseases and health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.
While there’s no magical elixir for longer life, there are guidelines that can help find the optimum amount of physical activity needed to increase your time on Earth. Currently, the World Health Organisation recommends that adults do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or a minimum of 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This can also be topped up with some muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups on two or more days a week as these provide additional health benefits.
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