Even if you hate HIIT, love the elliptical and consider cleaning cardio, we’ve got news that might convince you to take your workouts to the next level. New research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine shows that people who participate in vigorous exercise have a lower risk of mortality compared to moderate exercisers — regardless of their total time spent active.
RELATED: HIIT: What It Is and Why It Works
In other words, even if you don’t do much of it, vigorous workouts pay off in the long run. “It is very important for health to do moderate physical activity…[however] a small, but significant additional benefit is associated with engaging in some vigorous activity,” says study author Dr. Klaus Gebel, of James Cook University’s Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention in Cairns, Australia.
Here’s why kicking your workouts up a notch could add time to your life.
Vigorous Exercise: Why Your Extra Effort Will Pay Off
It’s no secret that high-intensity exercise has serious health benefits. Numerous studies have shown that hard workouts are better for people’s blood pressure and physical function, while also having anti-inflammatory effects, according to Dr. Gebel.
“Therefore, we hypothesized that, among those reporting any moderate-to-vigorous activity, higher proportions of vigorous activity would be associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality,” Dr. Gebel says. In other words: More burpees, more birthdays?
RELATED: The Medicine Ball HIIT Workout
Between 2006 and 2014, researchers studied 204,542 adults, ages 45 through 75, to determine how exercise levels impacted mortality. The participants were split into three groups: Those who did only moderate activity, those who did some vigorous activity, and those who worked out intensely more than 30 percent of the time. The results spoke for themselves: Participants who reported some vigorous activity had a nine percent decreased risk of mortality, compared to moderate exercisers. Furthermore, folks who did the most vigorous activity had a 13 percent lower risk, compared to those who did none. Talk about long-lasting effects.
How to Step Up Your Workouts
No clue if you’re working out hard enough? Researchers defined vigorous activity as something that made you “breathe harder or puff and pant.” Think: Running, aerobics, cycling or competitive tennis.
RELATED: Hate Running? 25 Ways to Learn to Love It
Currently, the World Health Organization’s physical activity guidelines specify that adults should strive for either 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, each week. The recommendations note that: “Two minutes of moderate-intensity activity counts the same as one minute of vigorous intensity activity.” However, the results of this study suggest this isn’t quite true.
“Ideally people should strive to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and to spend at least 20-30 minutes of that in vigorous activity,” Dr. Gebel says. Not realistic for you? Any amount of regular, vigorous intensity activity is better than none, according to researchers. Get started with these 3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners.