There is a long-standing debate as to whether the intensity
or the duration of exercise is more important for good health.
It's been shown that men who exercise at high intensity cut
their risk for heart disease nearly in half, compared to sedentary
men, yet similar risk reduction also applies to low-intensity
exercise, and varying levels of energy expenditure.
Almost 50,000 men ages 40-75 completed multiple questionnaires
from 1986-1998 assessing diet, lifestyle, medical history
and exercise. In this study in the Journal of the American
Medical Association, walking/hiking; jogging; bicycling;
tennis; swimming; rowing; calisthenics; outdoor work; weight
training; and racquetball were all considered as types of
amounts of physical activity did translate into corresponding
reductions in risk for coronary heart disease (CHD); men with
the greatest amount of activity reduced their risk 30%, compared
to sedentary men. But wait - high exercise intensity also
independently lowered risk for CHD - 17% more than low-intensity
exercises. Activities that offered the most significant reductions
in CHD risk included running, weight training and rowing.
A faster walking pace was found to reduce heart-disease risk
more than a slower pace, regardless of the total time spent
So, which is better: intense exercise for a couple of hours
per week, or low-intensity exercise for several hours per
week? There is no definite answer. It appears, though, that
regular aerobic exercise each week, combined with some high-intensity
training, may be optimal. Your chiropractor can help you determine
the exercise-intensity level that is safe for you, and help
you focus on maintaining that level of fitness.
Tanasescu M, Leitzmann MF, et al. Exercise type and intensity
in relation to coronary heart disease in men. Journal of
the American Medical Association 2002:288(16), pp. 1994-2000.
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