Higher Intensity Exercise Leads to Greater Disease Risk Reduction

Colorado remains one of the fittest states in the Colorado with low rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases associated with low activity levels.  Specifically, our home town of Boulder remains of the fittest cities in the country due to its' high percentage of citizens who meet or exceed the U.S. Surgeon General's recommendations on daily exercise.  

A MET minute is the intensity of the exercise multiplied by its' duration.  For example, light exercise is 1-3 METs where as vigorous activity is 6 or greater METs.  600 MET minutes per week could be either long duration light to moderate activity or a lesser duration of high intensity exercise.  These established guidelines were based off of epidemiological research showing the positive impact of aerobic exercise on risk reduction for many diseases including stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.   New research is now showing a further reduction in disease risk if individuals exceed these weekly guidelines by exercising longer and harder.  

A recent review article in the British Medical Journal quantified the dose response of exercise duration and intensity on disease risk modification (Kyu et al. 2016).  The authors reviewed 174 articles on exercise's impact on disease.  In general, the authors found more active participants were at lower risk of many diseases (see above), but those were more active showed even greater reductions in disease risk.  Thus, it appears there is further benefit to exercising at a higher intensity and/or longer duration to further reduce disease risk.  Individuals are advised to speak with their Physician and Physical Therapist before engaging in any vigorous exercise program.