A study has shown that engaging in moderate or vigorous exercise two to four times more than the recommended guidelines, improves health and significantly reduces the risk of early death and cardiovascular disease.

The large-scale study published in the journal Circulation analysed medical records and reports of 100,000 individuals over 30 years. The researchers found that people who engaged in moderate or vigorous exercise, or a combination, for 150 to 600 minutes a week may reduce the risk of early death by up to a third.

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Exercise intensity also matters

Dong Hoon Lee, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston said: “Our findings support the current national physical activity guidelines and further suggest that the maximum benefits may be achieved by performing medium to high levels of either moderate or vigorous activity or a combination.

Findings showed that 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week may lower the risk of mortality from all causes by as much as 21%, and 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise may lower the risk by 21-23%.

However, it was those who exercised from two to four times the minimum who lowered their risk by as much as 31%.

Moderate activities include walking, weight-lifting, and low-intensity exercise while vigorous exercises include jogging, running, swimming, biking, and other aerobic workouts.

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Move more for your health

Health and wellness expert Vanessa Ascencao said that South Africans should aim to make health and fitness a lifestyle and increase physical activity if overweight to help build resilience against stressors and live longer. She said that being too sedentary could also lead to a decline in brain function.

“Set realistic and attainable health and fitness goals that align with you. Don’t compare yourself to others as each journey is unique. Know your roadblocks, expect setbacks, and be adaptable during challenges. Surround yourself with positive inspiration, don’t be too hard on yourself, and most importantly have fun,” said Ascencao.

Ascencao makes the following suggestions:

  • Cut back on sugar
  • Make healthy swaps like drinking water instead of soda
  • Repeat small habits daily like prioritising eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Do mindful activities like meditation and yoga
  • Find natural ways to support the immune system, gut, and overall health.

“Try intermittent fasting to improve metabolic health and avoid alcohol or smoking,” she adds.

“Most importantly, get enough restorative sleep daily and try high-quality supplements such as Spatone Liquid Iron, a 100% natural and gentle iron supplement that is easily absorbed and helps support energy and immunity. And nature-based Marcus Rohrer Spirulina, one of the richest natural food sources, making it a suitable supplement to help build and repair.