People who strenuously exercise are doing as much damage to their health as the couch potatoes. Instead, gentle exercise is the best approach for long-term health and longevity, say researchers from the Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen.
They studied the exercise levels and health of more than 1,000 healthy joggers and non-joggers over a 12-year period. Those who took a gentle approach to exercise and jogged at a steady pace for less than 150 minutes a week were the least likely to have died during the study period, whereas those who did strenuous exercise of more than 240 minutes (4 hours) a week or did no exercise at all were most at risk.
The ideal jogging pace was just 5 miles per hour, no more than three times a week and for a maximum of 150 minutes in total. Intensive exercisers, who jogged at a pace of 7 mph or more, and non-exercisers had the same risk profile.
"You don't actually have to do that much to have a good impact on your health. And perhaps you shouldn't actually do too much," said lead researcher Jacob Marott.
Strenuous exercise may cause pathological remodelling of the heart and arteries, the researchers surmise.
(Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2015: 65(5): 411-9)