Reevaluating the Importance of Exercise Intensity
A recent systematic review and meta-analysis has challenged the widely held belief that high-intensity exercise is superior for older adults, highlighting that the consistency of regular aerobic exercise may hold the key to improved cardiorespiratory fitness in this demographic.
Aerobic Exercise: A Heart-Healthy Choice
According to the American Heart Association, older adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. This regular exercise, whether it be walking or running, has numerous benefits for heart health. Improved circulation within the heart and throughout the cardiovascular system, reduction in cardiovascular risk, and improved metabolic rate are just a few advantages. This type of exercise also promotes fat burning, increases lean muscle mass, and reduces visceral fat. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood, reduce stress levels, and lower the risk of anxiety disorders and depression.
High Intensity vs. Moderate Intensity: The Verdict
The systematic review and meta-analysis in question aimed to compare the effects of moderate and high-intensity aerobic exercise on cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults. The study included 23 RCTs with 1332 older adults, divided into moderate-intensity and high-intensity groups. The findings challenge the notion that high-intensity exercise is inherently superior, showing that regular aerobic exercise, irrespective of the specific approach and intensity, provides primary benefits to cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults.
Virtual Exercise: A New Reality
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the potential of digital transformation in terms of physical exercise. With the challenges of providing in-person care, alternative ways of medical assistance and supervision have emerged, including virtual environments for exercise. The promotion of various sports activities online has provided employers with the possibility for the long-term implementation of innovative programs to promote employees’ physical activity.
Exercise Variety for Heart Health
Aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching all contribute to better heart and blood vessel function. The 2018 Physical Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, along with strength training two to three times per week. Stretching is also important to maintain strong, supple muscles and to avoid injury, and exercises like yoga and tai chi are highly recommended.
The Importance of Regular Physical Activity
Regular aerobic exercise is crucial for older adults to maintain cardiorespiratory fitness. Various activities, including cardiovascular training, strength training, and balance training, are important to promote longevity and reduce the risk of serious health issues. Balance training is particularly important to reduce the risk of falls and injury. Strength training is essential for maintaining muscle and overall health as we age. Research shows that participants who perform moderate physical activity have a lower risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.
Walking Towards Health: Is 10,000 Steps a Day Really Necessary?
The 10,000 steps-a-day regimen, a popular health goal for many, has an interesting origin. This magic number traces back to a 1960s marketing campaign for a pedometer. But, is 10,000 steps the ultimate benchmark for everyone? Do you need to push yourself to reach this number daily? Or could fewer steps still lead to noticeable health benefits?
The Origin of the 10,000 Steps
The idea of walking 10,000 steps a day to improve overall health and well-being gained significant popularity during the early development of pedometers in Japan in the 1960s. The popularity of the 10,000 steps goal skyrocketed in the early 2000s, marking a practical and achievable goal for individuals striving to break sedentary habits and adopt a more active lifestyle. However, the number 10,000 itself does not have a specific scientific basis. The 10,000 steps goal roughly corresponds to covering 5 miles or approximately 8 kilometers.
Is 10,000 Steps a Day Necessary?
While 10,000 steps a day can certainly boost your health, recent studies suggest that this number is not a hard-and-fast rule. Walking 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day is considered sufficient to lower the risk of disease and premature death, with additional steps providing marginal benefits. Research indicates that adding 1,000 steps to your daily routine could reduce the risk of mortality by roughly 15 percent. Furthermore, reductions in all-cause mortality can be seen from as little as 4,000 steps a day, with cardiovascular risk reductions observed after just 2,337 steps.
Walking and Weight Loss
Walking is a great low impact exercise that can aid in weight loss and improve overall health. An extra 15 minutes of walking per day can lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, dementia, and stroke. However, if weight loss is your primary goal, it’s essential to combine walking with a balanced diet, a calorie deficit, and strength training. Studies have shown that women who walked 5,000 steps per day had a lower risk of obesity. On the other hand, achieving at least 8,000 steps per day was enough to cut the risk of chronic diseases.
Benefits Beyond Physical Health
Walking isn’t just about physical health – it also plays a role in mental well-being. Regular walking can reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. It can also improve your mood and cognitive function, making it a holistic approach to health.
Tracking Your Steps
Keeping track of your steps can be beneficial in maintaining an active lifestyle. Apps like Apple Health or devices like Garmin, Fitbit, or Apple Watch can help you monitor your progress. Remember, it’s important to gradually increase steps based on your individual ability and fitness level. Try to incorporate 15- to 20-minute walks throughout the day to keep yourself active and energized.
Step Intensity and Other Activities
While tracking your steps, also pay attention to the intensity of your walks. Walking at a higher intensity can help lower the risk of disease, burn more calories, and aid in weight loss. Additionally, consider incorporating other physically active activities beyond walking into your routine, for a comprehensive approach to fitness.
In conclusion, while 10,000 steps a day can be a great goal, it’s not a one-size-fits-all measure. What’s essential is to stay active, whether it’s through walking, other exercises, or a combination of both. So, let’s put on our walking shoes and step towards better health!
Women gain twice the benefits from exercise than men, study shows
New research finds that women derive greater benefits when it comes to reducing cardiovascular and all-cause mortality risk from doing the same amount of physical activity as men.
In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 412,423 US adults (55% female, age 44 ± 17 years) were examined from 1997 – 2019 by a team from institutions including the School of Clinical Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing and Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles.
Participants provided data on their exercise habits, and their levels of aerobic physical activity and strength training were measured. The variables of frequency, duration, intensity and type were taken into account.
What were the benefits for women compared to for men?
The results showed that both men and women saw the maximum benefits at around 300 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, like rope jumping, plateauing afterwards, but that women experienced more benefits in half the time.
Men experienced an 18% risk reduction in all-cause mortality for this duration. By contrast, women experienced the same gain in under half the time, at 140 minutes per week, continuing to benefit with increasing minutes of exercise. At 300 minutes per week, they had a 24% lower risk of premature death from any cause.
Women who were regular exercisers were also 36% less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular incident compared with non-exercisers; for men, the difference in risk between the active and inactive was less than half that of women’s, at just 14%.
When it came to strength training, men who did three sessions per week saw their risk of death fall by 14%, whereas women saw the same benefits from just one session. When women also did three sessions per week, their risk was reduced by almost double compared to that of men.
Vigorous physical activity
The greatest sex difference was seen in vigorous physical activity, such as running or swimming, with men achieving a 19% lower risk in all-cause mortality after engaging in 110 minutes a week of this type of exercise, while women saw the same gains after only 57 minutes a week. Moreover, for women, the 110 minutes a week were associated with a 24% lower mortality risk.
Moderate physical activity
For men engaging in moderate activity, like cycling or brisk walking, they saw the greatest benefits at 90 minutes a week, with a 20% lowered risk, whereas women achieved the same advantages at 50 minutes per week, and saw 24% reduction at 90 minutes.
‘Our study…encourages women who may not be getting enough exercise for various reasons, that even relatively small amounts of exercise can provide significant benefits,’ Dr Hongwei Ji, co-author of the study from the Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, said to The Guardian.
‘The 300-minute threshold is where we observed the greatest benefits, but statistically significant sex differences emerge with even smaller doses,’ continued Ji.
Prof Emmanuel Stamatakis, of the University of Sydney, who was not involved in the study, also suggested to The Guardian that it was likely that the different responses were because ‘physical effort women make for a given physical task is higher than in men.’ He also thought that the study’s results highlighted differences in skeletal muscle composition between the sexes.
Similarly, the authors suggested to The Telegraph that, since men generally have greater lung capacity, larger hearts and greater muscle mass, women may have to work harder in terms of respiration, metabolism and strength to perform the same movements, hence the increased benefits.
Dr Martha Gulati, director of Preventive Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute told The Times: ‘The beauty of this study is learning that women can get more out of each minute of moderate to vigorous activity than men do.’
How much exercise should I be doing?
The NHS recommends that adults aged 19-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. They advise that adults aim to do strengthening activities that work all your major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least two days.
However, research shows that women consistently engage in less moderate-to-physical activity than their male counterparts, with the far-reaching health consequences of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Become a member of the Women’s Health Collective and get full access to the Women’s Health app, available to download on Google Play and the App Store, to get the latest celebrity-inspired workouts and fitness content.
Samantha Prabhu Offers A Peek Into Morning Exercise, Shocks With Her Metabolic Age
Coming to her health podcast ‘Take 20,’ the actress sat down to have a conversation with wellness coach and nutritionist Alkesh Sharotri for the very first episode, in which she also revealed why she wanted to do a project of this sorts. “The reason I wanted to do this podcast was because after the experience, the harrowing experience that I’ve been through and well, an autoimmune condition is lifelong, so with what I’m dealing with right now as well, I’d rather people be safe than sorry,” she stated. For those caught unversed, the ‘Pushpa’ actress was diagnosed with myositis, which she talked about in October 2022.
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