Living Longer May Require More Exercise Than You Expect

A new study from the American Heart Association suggests you may want to double your physical activity

Three people running in the morning. A new study suggests people should exercise far more often than current recommendations.
You probably need to get in that morning run
Fitsum Admasu / Unsplash

If you’re really worried about living a long and healthy life, you should exercise much more than the current recommendations for physical activity, according to a new study by the American Heart Association’s publication Circulation.

Currently, physical activity guidelines for Americans last made in 2018 recommend a minimum of 150-300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity (MPA), 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity (VPA) or “an equivalent combination of both.” While people exercising at those levels did see a noticeable decrease in mortality risk, exercising 2-4 times more than those recommendations led to better results.

The study featured 116,221 adults culled from two major studies. Participants self-reported their leisure-time physical activity.

As Forbes notes in its analysis, people who met the 2018 guidelines saw a reduction in mortality risk of about 20-21%, while those who vigorously exercised for 75 minutes had a 19% reduction in mortality risk. If you double, triple or quadruple the amount of exercise over those minimums, those numbers improve to 26-31% and 21-23%, respectively. Those might not seem like huge increases, but we’re literally talking about life and death here.

Interestingly, going beyond four times the recommended physical activity — say, for people training for a marathon — did not show any additional harm. This conclusion “may reduce the concerns around the potential harmful effect of engaging in high levels of physical activity observed in several previous studies,” researcher Dong Hoon Lee said in a statement.

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