JAMA publication: Exercise is Medicine

Eijsvogels , Thijs

Physical inactivity has been labelled a pandemic due to its increasing global prevalence and its health, economic, environmental, and social consequences. The benefits of exercise are indisputable and the current perception is that a curvilinear relationship exists between the amount of physical activity and the related health benefits. However, what is the minimum dose of exercise needed to promote health? Do larger doses elicit larger health benefits? What is the cutoff between the beneficial and possibly detrimental effects of exercise? Thijs Eijsvogels and Paul Thompson studied available literature to answer these questions. Their findings were published in JAMA this week.

Eijsvogels and Thompson demonstrated that 15 minutes of exercise a day at a moderate intensity or 8 minutes exercise a day at a vigorous intensity significantly reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. Higher doses of moderate-intensity physical activity are related to larger health benefits, whereas physical activity beyond the lowest effective dose for high-intensity exercise is not associated with further reduced mortality rates. Also, no evidence for an upper limit of exercise-induced health benefits was found. Individuals performing exercise up to 300 minutes a day experience similar reductions in the risk for premature death compared to individuals exercising 100 minutes a day.

As physical activity is one of the best modifiable factors for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases and mortality, the authors conclude that exercise is medicine, regardless of its dose.

Publication: Eijsvogels TM & Thompson PD. Exercise Is Medicine: At Any Dose?
JAMA. 2015 Nov 10;314(18):1915-1916. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.10858


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