We all now a bit of exercise could help us live for longer but a new study suggests that vigorous periods of activity could add five years to your life
Scientists have found that short stints of intense exercise are better for the heart than a slow paced walk round the block. The study suggests that those who cycle at speed are likely to live five years longer than those who just potter along.
The 20-year experiment involving 5,000 healthy people cycling every day. Speedy female cyclists lived 3.9 years longer than those in the slow lane and fast riders who spent no more than an hour a day on a bike had the best chance of avoiding premature death from any cause.
‘This study suggests that a greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous based on the individual’s own perception of intensity,’ says Dr Peter Schnohr who led the research at Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen.
Dr Schnohr argued that the government should advise people to take activity in more vigorous bursts, but Professor Peter Weissberg from the British Heart Foundation urged caution.
‘Intense exercise puts a huge load on the heart and this could be a problem for people with heart disease or who are unused to exercise,’ he says. ‘I would hate the message to get out in the UK that people who are not used to cycling should start doing it short and sharp.’
Professor Weissberg added that the study was very interesting in relation to those who already cycled, but most people in Britain are not that active. ‘Current guidelines say that you’ve got to do sufficient exercise to get your heart rate up and get slightly breathless.’