Impact of Moderate-Intensity and Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity on Mortality

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018 Apr;50(4):715-721. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001463.


Purpose: Physical activity guidelines recommend at least 150 min of moderate-intensity physical activity (MPA), 75 min of vigorous-intensity physical activity (VPA), or combination of MPA and VPA. However, few epidemiological studies have examined whether the general population can derive equal health benefits from MPA or VPA. This study examined the associations of different activity intensities with mortality.

Methods: In this prospective cohort study, a total of 83,454 community-dwelling Japanese who answered a questionnaire in 2000-2003 were followed for all-cause mortality through 2012. Subjects were classified into four groups by physical activity guidelines and also by the proportion of VPA to total MVPA, that is, physically inactive, physically active without any VPA (0% VPA), and active with some VPA (30% or less) or with more VPA (more than 30%). Hazard ratios of all-cause mortality were calculated with adjustment for potential confounders including physical activity volume.

Results: During 894,718 person-years of follow-up, 8891 deaths were identified. Compared with physically inactive subjects, the adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were 0.75 (95% confidence interval, 0.68-0.83), 0.73 (0.65-0.82), and 0.74 (0.62-0.89) among men, and 0.71 (0.62-0.81), 0.75 (0.64-0.88), and 0.74 (0.58-0.94) among women. For "0% VPA," "30% or less" and "more than 30%," respectively.

Conclusions: Meeting the guidelines in either pattern of physical activity is important for lowering mortality risk. It may be suggested that people can receive comparable health benefit by MPA or VPA as long as they meet the guideline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires