Harder workout intensity may not increase your longevity

Research we're watching

Published: January, 2021

Good news if you take a more leisurely approach to your workouts: a recent study found that people who performed harder workouts didn't live any longer, on average, when compared with people who did more moderate workouts. Researchers studied a group of people in Norway who participated in five years of supervised exercise training. The participants included 790 women and 777 men (with an average age of 73), divided into three groups. Everyone followed federal recommendations to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. But in addition to that, one group received two supervised weekly sessions of high-intensity interval training. A second group added two supervised moderate-intensity continuous training workouts per week. All three groups continued their assigned workouts for five years.

At the conclusion of the trial, 4.6% of the participants had died, but there was no significant difference in death rates between the group that followed the modest federal exercise recommendations and the two groups that did the more intense workouts. In addition, all groups had similar levels of cardiovascular disease and deaths from cancer. However, that's not to say that participating in regular high-intensity workouts wasn't linked to any benefits. The participants who did the harder workouts had better outcomes on certain measures of mental health and physical fitness.

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