Exercise volume and intensity: a dose-response relationship with health benefits

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Aug;114(8):1563-71. doi: 10.1007/s00421-014-2887-9. Epub 2014 Apr 27.


Introduction: The health benefits of exercise are well established. However, the relationship between exercise volume and intensity and health benefits remains unclear, particularly the benefits of low-volume and intensity exercise.

Purpose: The primary purpose of this investigation was, therefore, to examine the dose-response relationship between exercise volume and intensity with derived health benefits including volumes and intensity of activity well below international recommendations.

Methods: Generally healthy, active participants (n = 72; age = 44 ± 13 years) were assigned randomly to control (n = 10) or one of five 13-week exercise programs: (1) 10-min brisk walking 1×/week (n = 10), (2) 10-min brisk walking 3×/week (n = 10), (3) 30-min brisk walking 3×/week (n = 18), (4) 60-min brisk walking 3×/week (n = 10), and (5) 30-min running 3×/week (n = 14), in addition to their regular physical activity. Health measures evaluated pre- and post-training including blood pressure, body composition, fasting lipids and glucose, and maximal aerobic power (VO2max).

Results: Health improvements were observed among programs at least 30 min in duration, including body composition and VO2max: 30-min walking 28.8-34.5 mL kg(-1) min(-1), 60-min walking 25.1-28.9 mL kg(-1) min(-1), and 30-min running 32.4-36.4 mL kg(-1) min(-1). The greater intensity running program also demonstrated improvements in triglycerides.

Conclusion: In healthy active individuals, a physical activity program of at least 30 min in duration for three sessions/per week is associated with consistent improvements in health status.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Walking / physiology*