Saying that exercise is beneficial for your health is not news. However, new evidence suggests that vigorous exercise may reduce one's risk of heart disease and even cancer. Encouraging findings of this new study was presented during EuroEcho 2019, a conference of the European Society of Cardiology.
The study looked at two groups of women, and most of them were between 50 and 75 years old. Some had poor exercise capacity, while others had good exercise capacity. The researchers followed the group for five years.
Each woman's exercise capacity was measured through metabolic equivalents (METs). METs measure how much energy a person expends during a task relative to the mass of that person.
For the study, "good exercise capacity" means the ability to exercise at an intensity of 10 METs or higher during a stress echocardiogram. For comparison, biking up a mountain clocks at 14 METs.
Researchers found that women in the poor exercise capacity group were four times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those with a high fitness level.
However, the findings of the study were limited because the researchers didn't look into the study subjects' exact workout routines and habits that helped them reach an optimum fitness level. Furthermore, the MET level on the test used in the study determines maximal capacity. Still, it is not necessarily a marker of "vigorous exercise" training.
Benefits of Vigorous Exercise
Although the study didn't lean into the details, it's still safe to say that the benefits of vigorous exercise are many.
Even just for a few minutes at a time, engaging in vigorous exercise challenges the body more than moderate-level activities. It also stimulates better blood flow to the muscles and increased strength and muscle mass.
Furthermore, vigorous exercise is proven effective in reducing body fat, which improves insulin signaling—reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Types of Vigorous Exercises
If you're planning to include vigorous exercises in your workout routine, we highly recommend consulting your primary care physician first. Once he/she gives you the go-signal, it's time to choose your preferred activity.
Spinning, boot camps, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are great examples of vigorous exercises. These forms of exercise push your muscles and cardiovascular system to their limits, which directly improves your exercise capacity.
If spinning or boot camps are too much for you, you can look into HIIT workouts. A recent study found that HIIT improved the fitness level of older veterans. They worked out three times a week on a recumbent bicycle. The 10-minute workout—which included a 3-minute warm-up—consisted of alternating one-minute stretches of less intense and intense pedaling.
Continuous vigorous exercise, such as biking up a mountain for half an hour, also offers the same benefits as HIIT.
However, specific HIIT routines may negatively impact the joint health of middle-aged or older people and those who have more weight. Another option is to look for high-intensity but low-impact workout routines. A simple search on YouTube for high-intensity low-impact exercises will yield great results.
The downside to vigorous exercises is the high risk for injury. However, you can still engage in strenuous workouts safely.
Always check in with your primary care physician before starting a new fitness routine. Next, make it a habit to listen to your body. Stop what you're doing if something doesn't feel right.
When it comes to working out, it's safe to start at a tolerable pace, then gradually increase the level of intensity. This practice does not only decrease your risk for injury, but it also ensures that you stick to a consistent workout routine.
However, if vigorous exercise is not your cup of tea or your physical condition doesn't allow you to exercise harder, all hope is not lost. Keep in mind that getting a bit of exercise every day is always better than being sedentary. Regular movement is key to better health.
Light-intensity physical activities include gentle yoga or walking. If walking outdoors is not possible, search for indoor walking exercise routines on YouTube. Before you know it, you have already clocked in one mile without leaving your living room.What do you think about these findings? What types of exercises do you plan on doing? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.