Women who can exercise at a higher intensity during a heart stress test are less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, and other causes, say the authors of a new study. Scotty Butcher, Ph.D., an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, said these findings are “right in line” with other research looking at the impact of fitness level on the risk of dying from these kinds of conditions.
It’s no surprise that exercise is good for your health, but does the new study mean that all women should take up more vigorous exercise like running, swimming laps, or kickboxing? Exercise capacity linked to lower risk of dying the new study, researchers looked at two groups of women those with good exercise capacity and those with poor exercise capacity. Women with good exercise capacity were able to exercise at an intensity of 10 metabolic equivalents (METs) or better during a stress echocardiogram.
MET level is a measure of how much energy is burned during activity it’s also a proxy for the intensity of physical activity. Anything over 6 METs is considered vigorous exercise. Running a 10-minute mile is about 10 METs. Mountain biking uphill is 14 METs.Researchers found that women with poor exercise capacity were almost four times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to women with good exercise capacity. Poor exercisers were also twice as likely to die from cancer and more than four times as likely to die from other causes, compared to women with a higher fitness level.
The study was presented on December 7 at EuroEcho 2019, a scientific meeting of the European Society of Cardiology. The results have not been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal, so they should be viewed with some caution. Most of the women in the study were between 50 and 75 years old. Researchers followed the women on average for about 5 years. Benefits of vigorous exercise while many types of exercise lead to greater fitness, there are advantages to maxing out your effort, even if just for a few minutes at a time.
Ken Selden, Ph.D., a research assistant professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said the body responds to exercise in a way that prepares it for similar challenges in the future.”Vigorous exercise simply challenges the body more so than moderate exercise, and the response, therefore, is greater so as to better prepare for that next vigorous challenge,” said Selden. These responses include a greater flow of blood to the muscles which carries oxygen and fuel as well as increased muscle mass and strength.
Body fat is also reduced as fat is converted to fuel, and insulin signaling improves, which can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Vigorous exercise safe for all ages although high-intensity exercises like spin class and boot camps is often marketed to 20- and 30-somethings, vigorous exercise can be appropriate for any age group.”Aging exercisers often have the potential for even greater benefits to health than their younger counterparts, mostly because they tend to be more de-conditioned,” said Butcher.
Selden and his colleague Dr. Bruce Troen, chief of the division of geriatric and palliative medicine in the Jacobs School at University at Buffalo, carried out research in which older veterans did high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a recumbent bicycle three times per week. Both researchers are affiliated with the VA Western New York Healthcare System. The vigorous activity comes in many styles there are many types of vigorous workouts. These all push your muscles and cardiovascular system to their limits.
One of the most well-known is HIIT, the alternating intense-moderate exercise that the older veterans did in Seldeen’s and Troen’s research study. Few studies have compared HIIT to just continuous vigorous exercise like biking up a mountain for half an hour but Selden said they likely offer similar benefits. He said many people find HIIT attractive for two reasons the exercise sessions can be short and there’s a built-in low-intensity “recovery” period. Some HIIT workouts, though, involve a lot of movement think burpees and jumping jacks. This can be hard on the joints, especially if you are middle-aged or older, or have more weight.