Summary: A new study suggests that even less than the recommended 150 minutes of regular aerobic exercise per week can significantly reduce the risk of dying from the flu or pneumonia.
However, the benefits can be flat and even detrimental to certain types of exercise, especially muscle-strengthening exercises. The study reviewed responses from more than 577,000 adults who participated in the US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from 1998 to 2018.
The study found that people who met both aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening goals were about half as likely to die from the flu or pneumonia compared to those who met neither goal.
- According to the study, meeting a weekly aerobic activity goal reduced the risk of dying from the flu or pneumonia by 36 percent.
- Regular aerobic exercise, even less than the recommended 150 minutes per week, can significantly reduce the risk of dying from the flu or pneumonia.
- While meeting the weekly goal of 2 muscle-strengthening sessions was associated with a 47% lower risk of death, seven or more sessions were associated with a 41% higher risk.
Aerobic exercise, commonly known as “cardio,” can significantly reduce the risk of dying from the common cold or pneumonia, even if it’s less than the recommended amount each week. British Journal of Sports Medicine.
But the effect may plateau or — in the case of muscle-strengthening exercises — go beyond a point where it can be harmful, the findings suggest.
Adults are recommended to add at least 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, aerobic exercise, or an equivalent combination, and muscle-strengthening exercise of moderate or greater intensity at least twice a week.
Aerobic exercise, which includes brisk/brisk walking, swimming, jogging, and stair climbing, is sustained, increases the heart rate, and produces a sweat. Muscle strengthening exercises using weights and resistance bands; exercises such as squats, lunges and presses (calisthenics); And heavy gardening.
In addition to helping to maintain good health and prevent serious illness, regular exercise can prevent death from the common cold or pneumonia, research suggests.
So the researchers wanted to know if certain types and amounts of exercise were associated with this reduced risk.
They collected responses from 577,909 adults who participated in the United States’ nationally representative National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) between 1998 and 2018.
Respondents were asked how often they spent 10 or more minutes of vigorous-intensity and light- or moderate-intensity aerobic activity. And they were asked how often they do muscle strengthening exercises.
Each person was then categorized according to whether they met the recommended aerobic activity + muscle-strengthening weekly goals: not meeting both; meet the goal of aerobic activity; Meeting the goal of strengthening muscles; and meet both targets.
five physical activities of 10, 10-149, 150-300, 301-600, and more than 600 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity; And 2, 2, 3, 4-6 and 7 or more sessions/week of muscle strengthening activities.
Half of the respondents (50.5%) did not meet either weekly goal. How well they did varied greatly by sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, health conditions, and whether they had been vaccinated against flu and/or pneumonia.
A third (34%) were inactive in aerobic activity, and more than three-quarters (78%) reported more than 2 weekly muscle-strengthening activities.
During a mean follow-up period of 9 years, 81,431 participants died; Of these, 1516 died due to influenza and pneumonia.
Those who met both recommended weekly physical activity goals were nearly half as likely (48%) to die from the flu or pneumonia as their peers who met none.
Meeting the aerobic activity target alone was associated with a 36% lower risk, after controlling for potential confounding factors, while meeting the muscle-strengthening target alone was not associated with a significant difference in risk.
In terms of quantity, performing 10-149, 150-300, and 301-600 minutes of aerobic exercise was associated with 21%, 41%, and 50% lower risks, respectively, than none. But no additional benefit was seen above 600 weekly minutes.
” even if [10-150 mins/week] It is often labeled ‘inadequate’ because it falls below the recommended duration, which may provide health benefits associated with inactivity, the researchers suggest.
When it comes to muscle strengthening activities, compared to less than 2 weekly sessions, meeting the 2 weekly goal was associated with a 47% lower risk, but 7 or more sessions was associated with a 41% higher risk.
“Beyond the scope of this study, plausible explanations [for this dichotomy] From inaccurate responses (reporting occupational physical activity, such as recreational exercise, may not provide a protective effect) to frequent and high-intensity hemodynamic responses. [muscle strengthening activity]” explained the researchers.
This is an observational study, and as such cannot prove causation, and the researchers acknowledge various limitations.
For example, the study was based on personal recall and one time; The NHIS survey only included leisure-time physical activity of 10 or more minutes, and did not distinguish between light and moderate intensity activities.
However, the researchers concluded, “Efforts to reduce influenza and pneumonia mortality among adults should focus on reducing the prevalence of aerobic inactivity and increasing muscle-strengthening activity 2 times per week.”
So exercise and health research news
Author: Carolyn White
Contact: Carolyn White – BMJ
Image: Image credited to Neuroscience News.
Preliminary study: Open Access.
“Leisure-time physical activity and mortality from influenza and pneumonia: a cohort study of 577,909 US adults.” by Bryant J Webber et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine
Leisure-time physical activity and mortality from influenza and pneumonia: a cohort study of 577,909 US adults.
To examine the relationship between leisure-time physical activity and mortality from influenza and pneumonia.
US adults (aged ≥18 years) who participated in the National Health Interview Survey from 1998 to 2018 were followed for mortality through 2019. Moderate-intensity equivalent aerobic physical activity and ≥2 units/week of muscle-strengthening activity. Participants were also divided into five volume-based categories of self-reported aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Influenza and pneumonia are the leading cause of death in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision J09-J18 codes recorded in the National Death Index. Mortality risk was assessed using Cox proportional hazards, adjusting for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, health conditions, and influenza and pneumococcal vaccination status. The data was analyzed in 2022.
Among the 577 909 participants, for a median of 9.23 years, 1516 influenza and pneumonia deaths were recorded. Compared with participants who received no guidelines, those who met both guidelines had a 48 percent reduction in adjusted mortality from influenza and pneumonia. Compared with aerobic activity, 10–149, 150–300, 301–600 and >600 min/week were associated with lower risk (by 21%, 41%, 50% and 41%, respectively). Compared with <2 classes/week of muscle-strengthening activity, 2 classes/week was associated with a 47% lower risk and ≥7 classes/week was associated with a 41% higher risk.
Aerobic exercise, even at levels below recommended levels, shows a J-shaped relationship between muscle strengthening activity and mortality from influenza and pneumonia.