The PURE study is out: benefits of movement across all economic levels
The PURE study, just published in the Lancet on September 21, 2017, reports the results of a seven-year cohort study of physical activity effects on mortality and cardiovascular disease risk. 130,000 people from 17 countries participated, spanning high-income, middle-income, and low-income populations. This unique study included all types of physical activity, such as recreation, exercise, and on-the-job and domestic tasks.
Physical activity has a protective effect against cardiovascular disease (CVD) in high-income countries, where physical activity is mainly recreational, but it is not known if this is also observed in lower-income countries, where physical activity is mainly non-recreational. We examined whether different amounts and types of physical activity are associated with lower mortality and CVD in countries at different economic levels.
Just 2.5 hours, or 150 minutes per week
Moderate intensity movement for 2.5 hours per week, no matter the activity, cuts your risks of death and heart disease. 150 minutes per week is the magic number.
The PURE study uses the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) to track all types of physical activity. It includes recreation like sports and play, as well as intentional exercise like going to the gym. It also includes daily life activity at work and at home.
How to measure moderate activity
Activity is measured in MET minutes. MET stands for metabolic equivalent of task, which means the energy you expend. For example, sitting on the couch doing nothing is considered a one MET activity.
In order to get to moderate, your MET score should be 3.0 – 5.9, and vigorous is 6.0 and higher.
Moderate activities for Real Women
Obvious physical exercise is moderate or vigorous, such as bicycling, running, or aerobic classes. Also, any physical labor job that’s on your feet is moderate or vigorous. If you’re really interested in finding out if what you do is moderate or vigorous, there’s a detailed list on this site.
Here’s examples of activities you may not realize are moderate or vigorous:
- Walking while carrying a 15 pound child
- Organizing a room
- Sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming – moderate effort as opposed to slow and light
- Cooking and washing dishes – moderate effort as opposed to slow and light
- Playing with children or pets while on your feet and moving around
- Washing a car
- Most standing tasks while doing something (retail, massage, acupuncture, crafting, building, bartending)
- Walking for transportation
- Resistance training
- Scrubbing a bathroom
- Power yoga (not other types of yoga)
- Drums, marching band, standing trombone, standing guitar
- Making a bed, changing linens
- Self-propelled scooter
- Water aerobics
- Doing laundry
- Most gardening and yard work – weeding and harvesting count, but not planting!
Here are activities that do not make it into the moderate category:
- Pretty much any sitting activity
- Standing and treadmill desks!
- Sexual activity (although who knows about standing?)
Is more better?
Once you do 1.8 hours of vigorous activity per day, then you won’t benefit in lowering disease risks if you do more. However, up to 1.8 hours, the more 3.0 and above MET minutes per week, the more your disease risks lower. So, YES, more is better but not more than 1.8 hours per day.
The magic minimum number to meet is 150 minutes per week!
That’s 30 minutes five days per week, or 50 minutes three days per week, or many minutes throughout every day!