Vigorous exercise and strength training are keys to a longer, healthier life

strength training

The pendulum has swung back again. Recent opinion that almost any kind of moderate exercise was all that you really needed to live an optimum life are being debunked by the latest findings. Looks like that leisurely walk I've been taking to the refrigerator no longer qualifies as beneficial exercise, even if my Fitbit is logging the distance. 

Most current guidelines say that two minutes of moderate activity offers about the same health benefit as one minute of vigorous activity. But new research has indicated that the benefits of vigorous exercise are more than twice that of moderate exercise, and significantly reduce early mortality. The benefits of vigorous activity are independent of the total amount of time spent being active, and those benefits are still produced despite such factors as body mass index, diet, age, alcohol use, and some chronic illnesses.

In a recent study, those people who exercised vigorously more than 30% of their exercise time decreased their mortality risk by 13%. Vigorous exercise includes such activities as jogging, aerobics, competitive tennis and strength training. 

And strength training also has the added advantage of enabling older people to live independently longer by increasing their overall balance and vitality and reducing their risk of falls — and their fear of falling. In the absence of strength training, you may lose up to 50 percent of your muscle mass by age 80, which leads to decreased physical activity levels, mobility, quality of life and cognitive functions. 

Talk with your doctor before starting or changing any exercise program, especially if you have chronic health issues.