exercise - mortality rates - vigorous vs. non-vigorous activity

Last edited 07/2022 and last reviewed 10/2022

Long-Term Leisure-Time Physical Activity Intensity and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality
  • a US study (n=116,221) found that performing around 150-300 minutes per week of vigorous or 300-600 minutes of moderate long-term leisure-time physical activity was associated with the lowest mortality (1)
    • was no clear additional association beyond these levels, although higher levels of long-term leisure-time vigorous physical activity (VPA) and moderate physical activity (MPA) were con-sistently inversely associated with mortality
    • the addition of long-term leisure-time VPA was associated with substantially lower mortality for individuals who reported <300 min/wk of long-term leisure-time MPA, but no additional association of long-term leisure-time VPA was observed for those who already reported >= 300 min/wk of long-term leisure-time MPA

Greater proportion of vigorous physical activity associated with greater mortality risk reduction

National guidelines are based on the assumption that for some health outcomes vigorous physical activity (VPA) is associated with greater benefits than MPA (moderate physical activity) (2,3)

  • a study investigated whether VPA is associated with greater mortality risk reduction compared with MPA, for the same amount of total physical activity (the total of vigorous and moderate physical activity - defined as total MVPA) (4)
    • the association of the proportion of VPA to total MVPA with all-cause mortality, CVD mortality and cancer mortality were examined
    • data of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual national cross-sectional survey of civilian participants from the US, from 17 cross-sectional waves conducted from 1997 to 2013 were used. Follow-up was to December 31, 2015. After exclusion of those with missing data on physical activity, those with disabilities or unable to perform moderate of vigorous physical activity, or with diagnosis of heart disease, stroke or cancer at baseline, a total of 403,681 participants were included. Median follow up was 10.1 years (IQR 5.4-14.6).
    • study authors conclude that a nationally representative cohort of US adults greater proportion of VPA to MVPA was associated with greater mortality risk reduction
      • participants with 150-299 min per week of MPA and 150 min per week or more of VPA had the lowest all-cause mortality risk