A new study has identified the amounts of time spent performing physical activity that are associated with significant reductions in all-cause mortality.
A large body of evidence supports the association between regular physical exercise and many positive health outcomes, including the reduction of chronic disease risk and improvements in cognitive function. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week for proper maintenance or improvement of overall health. According to a 2018 CDC report, only 23% of American adults perform enough aerobic and strength-training exercise each week.
In a recently published study out of Brigham Young University, a research team found that the minimum amount of moderate aerobic physical activity (MPA) that is associated with a significant reduction of all-cause mortality is one (1) hour per week, which was associated with a 15% lower mortality risk. The mortality risk continued to decrease with increased aerobic exercise, plateauing at three (3) hours per week, which was associated with a 27% lower mortality risk. The mortality risk was compared to a control group who received less than 30 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week.
Regular strength-training (MSE) was also associated with decreases in all-cause mortality. These benefits were shown to peak at two (2) hours of weekly strength-training exercise, which was associated with a 12% lower mortality risk. No additional mortality risk improvements were seen in participants who performed more strength-training than this. The mortality risk was compared to a control group who performed no strength-training exercises throughout the week.
Comparable improvements in mortality risk reduction were seen in participants who were both older and younger than 60 years old.
The study included 184,033 participants ranging from 18-84 years old. The mean age of participants was 43.1±17.1. The study controlled for possible confounding demographic factors and pre-existing conditions including age, sex, race-ethnicity, income, education, marital status, survey year, smoking status, body mass index and chronic conditions.
The study’s results suggest that aerobic exercise in combination with strength-training may provide that greatest reduction in mortality risk.
The author’s state, “We observed that a marked inverse association between MSE and mortality risk with as little as 1 time/week of this PA modality in our basic exposure model, with additional mortality risk reduction present when MSE was performed in combination with MPA and/or VPA during analyses using our modified HHS exposure model. Observations generally suggested that 1–2 times/week of MSE is likely sufficient to reduce mortality risk, with no remarkable additional benefit seen beyond this frequency.”
Limitations of this study include the presence of possible confounding factors that were not included in statistical adjustments, such as diet and alcohol consumption. Another limitation of this study is that physical activity data was self-reported.
The study was published in British Journal of Sports Medicine on August 11th, 2022.
Abstract. Objectives: To investigate the dose-response association of aerobic physical activity (PA) and muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE) with all-cause mortality. Methods: National Health Interview Survey data (1997-2014) were linked to the National Death Index through 2015, which produced a cohort of 416 420 US adults. Cox proportional-hazard models were used to estimate HRs and 95% CIs for the associations of moderate aerobic PA (MPA), vigorous aerobic PA (VPA) and MSE with mortality risk. Models controlled for age, sex, race-ethnicity, income, education, marital status, survey year, smoking status, body mass index and chronic conditions. Results: Relative to those who engaged in no aerobic PA, substantial mortality risk reduction was associated with 1 hour/week of aerobic PA (HR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.83 to 0.86) and levelled off at 3 hours/week of aerobic PA (0.73, 0.71 to 0.75). Similar results were observed for men and women and for individuals younger and older than 60 years. MSE conferred additional mortality risk reduction at 1 time/week (0.89, 0.81 to 0.97) and appeared no longer beneficial at 7 times/week (0.99, 0.94 to 1.04). Conclusion: The minimum effective dose of aerobic PA for significant mortality risk reduction was 1 hour/week of MPA or VPA, with additional mortality risk reduction observed up to 3 hours/week. For older adults, only small decreases in mortality risk were observed beyond this duration. Completing MSE in combination with aerobic PA conferred additional mortality risk reduction, with a minimum effective dose of 1-2 times/week.
Coleman CJ, McDonough DJ, Pope ZC, Pope CA. Dose-response association of aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity with mortality: a national cohort study of 416 420 US adults. Br J Sports Med. 2022 Aug 11:bjsports-2022-105519. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-105519. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35953241.
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