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Wendy Bumgardner

Exercise or Die?

By August 3, 2009

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How important is it to get the minimum daily recommendation for exercise? A study that followed over 4300 people for 20 years showed that those not getting the minimum were twice as likely to die as those in the slightly-more-fit group, and four times more likely to die than the most-fit group.

All subjects had been referred for clinical treadmill tests and had normal exercise ECG responses and no history of cardiovascular disease. They were classified for fitness by clinical characteristics, physical activity patterns, and treadmill test results. But it was whether the subject reported recent recreational physical activity that predicted mortality. "Reduced physical activity patterns rather than differences in clinical characteristics contribute to the striking difference in mortality rates between the least-fit and the next-least-fit quintile of fitness in healthy individuals," the study concluded.

How much exercise do you need? The difference in this study between least fit and most fit were less than 5.9 METs vs. 6.0-7.9. "Nearly two-thirds of the least-fit individuals were not meeting the minimum recommended amount of physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes per day, five days per week)," says the American College of Sports Medicine in a press release.

This is further evidence that regular fitness walking or other moderate intensity exercise is a key to good health.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
What is Moderate Intensity Exercise?

Source: MANDIC, SANDRA; MYERS, JONATHAN N.; OLIVEIRA, RICARDO B.; ABELLA, JOSHUA P.; FROELICHER, VICTOR F. "Characterizing Differences in Mortality at the Low End of the Fitness Spectrum," Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. August 2009 - Volume 41 - Issue 8 - pp 1573-1579

ACSM Press Release, Mortality Linked to Physical Activity Levels in Unfit Individuals," July 30, 2009.

August 6, 2009 at 10:22 am
(1) Kim says:

This article is very poorly written! Those in the study may have been less likely to die early or from certain diseases but they all will die! To say that by exercising you won’t die is simply false. Exercising is a health issue, yes, but can and should be written about in an honest approach.

August 6, 2009 at 10:47 am
(2) Wendy B says:

Yes, we are all going to die. I prefer short headlines, so Exercise or Die? is snappier than Exercise or Die Younger? Note that both are queries. But far more of the least-fit people died within 20 years than those who got regular exercise. The study was controlled for several factors, especially history of cardiovascular disease and ECG responses, to compare people with the same health indices. They looked further at other factors that may have influenced the conclusion, check the reference abstract and research paper.

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