The recommendations on the physical activity levels required for optimal health have always been a focal point in the fitness world. While the physical activity guidelines have highlighted specific recommendations over the years, the question still arises: How much vigorous and moderate physical activity is associated with lower mortality?

A recently published study by Dong Hoon Lee et al. (2022) investigated the association between long-term leisure-time physical activity (both moderate and vigorous) and mortality. The study examined 116,221 US adults over a span of 30 years.

  1. All-Cause Mortality Reduction:
    Vigorous Physical Activity (VPA) (75–149 min/wk): 19% lower risk.
            Moderate Physical Activity (MPA) (150–299 min/wk): 19-25% lower risk.
  2. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Mortality Reduction:
            VPA: 31% lower risk.
            MPA: 19-25% lower risk.
  3. Non-CVD Mortality Reduction:
            VPA: 15% lower risk.
            MPA: 19-25% lower risk.

Become a T3 High Intensity Interval Training Coach & User Physical Activity to Reduce Mortality

Furthermore, the study found that performing 150-300 min/wk of VPA or 300-600 min/wk of MPA, or a combination of both, yielded the maximum association with lower mortality. However, beyond these durations, no significant additional benefits or harms were identified.

Lee et al.’s findings echo several previous studies:

  1. Warburton, Nicol & Bredin (2006): Their systematic review noted significant health benefits for adults who engaged in moderate amounts of physical activity, with greater health benefits as the volume and intensity of physical activity increased.
  2. Arem et al. (2015): This study reported a nonlinear relationship between leisure-time physical activity and mortality. While benefits were observed with activity levels three to five times higher than the recommended minimum, higher levels of activity did not result in harm.
  3. Moore et al. (2012): This study found that leisure-time physical activity, even below the recommended amount, was associated with a reduced risk of mortality. Those exceeding the recommendation had a 31% lower risk of death.

Implications for Fitness Professionals

  1. Individualised Training Programmes: While the general recommendation lies in the 150-300 min/wk of VPA or 300-600 min/wk of MPA, some individuals might benefit from customised programmes. The study suggests that for those below 300 min/wk of MPA, adding VPA can be beneficial.
  2. Balancing Intensity: It’s crucial not to push clients to go well beyond the upper limit of the recommendations without clear objectives, as no further mortality benefits were identified.
  3. Holistic Approach: Emphasise the importance of both MPA and VPA, as an equivalent combination of both can yield maximum health benefits.

While adhering to the guidelines remains pivotal, this study serves as a reminder for fitness professionals that it’s the consistent, long-term engagement in physical activity, both moderate and vigorous, that counts towards health benefits. With the proper balance of intensity and duration, we can aim for healthier, longer lives.


  1. Lee, D. H., Rezende, L. F. M., Joh, H. K., Keum, N., Ferrari, G., … & Giovannucci, E. L. (2022). Long-Term Leisure-Time Physical Activity Intensity and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort of US Adults. Circulation, 146(8), 523-534. Click here to review the full research article 
  2. Warburton, D. E. R., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. D. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Canadian medical association journal, 174(6), 801-809. Click here to review the full research article 
  3. Arem, H., Moore, S. C., Patel, A., Hartge, P., Berrington de Gonzalez, A., Visvanathan, K., … & Matthews, C. E. (2015). Leisure time physical activity and mortality: a detailed pooled analysis of the dose-response relationship. JAMA internal medicine, 175(6), 959-967. Click here to review the full research article
  4. Moore, S. C., Patel, A. V., Matthews, C. E., Berrington de Gonzalez, A., Park, Y., Katki, H. A., … & Hartge, P. (2012). Leisure time physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity and mortality: a large pooled cohort analysis. PLoS medicine, 9(11), e1001335. Click here to review the full research article

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Dive into our T3 HIIT Coach course, meticulously tailored for fitness professionals who aspire to elevate their training methodologies. Drawing insights from the latest research, including the groundbreaking study by Lee et al. (2022), we underscore the paramount importance of moderate and vigorous physical activity in reducing mortality risks. Equip yourself with the knowledge and techniques to offer your clients optimal health benefits. By mastering the art and science of T3 HIIT, you’ll empower them to achieve tangible results, ensuring a longer, healthier life. Your path to becoming the go-to HIIT expert starts here. Join us and transform lives!

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