Exercise Intensity or Duration: What is Best for the Heart?
You can walk into any gym in America and observe people exercising at various intensities. Some may ride a stationary bike for an hour at low-to-moderate intensity, while others may ride for only 30 minutes at high intensity. Which method provides the greatest benefit for the heart?
New evidence suggests that intensity is more important than the volume of physical activity in reducing cardiovascular risk.
Researchers at a University Hospital in Denmark monitored the activity levels of 10,135 study participants (ages 21-98) for over 10 years. The study, reported in The British Medical Journal Open, found that brisk walking or jogging halved the cardiovascular risk of participants over a 10-year period.
In contrast, leisurely walking, even for more than an hour each day, had no preventive effects. Previous research has found similar results. Medical researchers have shown that for both jogging and walking, speed rather than duration provides protection from all-cause and cardio-vascular disease mortality.
An international research team performed a scientific review on the effects of walking volume and pace on the risk of coronary heart disease. The review, published in The European Journal of Epidemiology, included over 295,000 participants and demonstrated a greater protective effect for walking pace than walking volume.
Another international research team examined the effect of walking on cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. The study, published in The European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, found that walking pace was a stronger predictor of overall risk than walking volume.
An exercise regimen that focuses on intensity, rather than duration of activity, can improve your cardiac risk profile.
Please note that before starting any exercise program, you should consult with your health care professional.
Dr. Hari Dass Khalsa is a chiropractor specializing in the non-surgical treatment of spinal conditions with offices in the Hawthorne District. Call 503.238.1032 for information.
Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a healthcare professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.