Best Training Intensity According to Study for Improving Fitness

Endurance sports, yoga, strength training – there are many different ways to play sports and get fit. But what is the most effective way? A new study found that regularity and a certain intensity of training are important.

Enrico Zesin, Physician in continuing training for internal medicine and sports medicine, official physician of the German Athletics Association and qualified molecular biologist

What do you have to do to get in shape? Many people who don’t play sports probably hope that simply going for a walk will suffice. According to a new study from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), the answer is: not if you just walk comfortably. If you want to improve your fitness, you should focus on targeted physical activity at a moderate training intensity.

Study with 2070 subjects

What improves fitness better: a leisurely walk, maximum training intensity to the breaking point, or something in between? This is exactly what the research team of cardiologist Matthew Naylor wanted to find out. To do this, he analyzed data from 2,070 subjects from the Framingham Heart Study aged between 45 and 63 years. Accelerometers worn by the participants for a week were used to record how much time they spent sitting, how many steps they walked per day, and how much time they spent in moderate and specific exercise. During this week they also underwent a second comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET). For the first time, these had already been done almost 8 years earlier in the course of the long-term study. CPETs are considered the “gold standard” for measuring fitness.

How can fitness be measured?

For the stress tests, the subjects trained on a bicycle ergometer. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) was measured during different training intensities or loads on the ergometer. Because oxygen consumption is considered a good indicator to study the relationship between physical activity and metabolic health. In addition, the tests also provided measured values ​​for central heart and vascular function. Based on these measurements, the researchers were able to draw conclusions about physical activity and fitness.

Also interesting: can 10,000 steps a day really replace exercise?

What is the best training intensity to improve fitness?

After analyzing all the data from the two study cycles, the result was: Routine training at a moderately strenuous intensity has the best effect on fitness. For every minute of this exercise, you’ll need to walk three minutes a day at a moderate cadence and sit 14 minutes less to get the same physical effect. 156 minutes per week seems to be enough, although there is evidence that spending more time exercising could also be good for fitness levels. Additionally, scientists found that moderate daily exercise and increased number of steps per day can also counteract the negative effects of too much sitting in fitness. Interestingly, these effects were independent of age, gender, weight, and possible prior cardiovascular disease.

Also interesting: No weight loss despite exercise? The study suggests a possible reason


So the best way to improve your fitness is to exercise regularly at a moderate intensity. The most effective types of exercise are those where the intensity can be specifically controlled, such as cycling and running. But mindful walking with a medium to high step rate is also appropriate and better than no movement at all.


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