Moderate-Vigorous Exercise Is The Best Way To Improve Fitness, Study Suggests

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have been researching the effects of physical exercise on greater physical fitness. Is hitting your step count with a gentle stroll as good as believed, or is it all about moderate-vigorous exercise? 

The Study 

2,000 participants undertook comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) for the “gold standard” measurement of physical fitness, which helps to understand someone’s maximum capacity to utilise oxygen. These measurements were then associated with the physical activity data of the participants. 

Physical activity data was gained through the use of accelerometers, which is a device that measures the frequency and intensity of human movement. The participants wore the accelerometers for one week around the time of their CPET, and approximately eight years earlier. 

This range allowed the researchers to gain a broader view of the effects of exercise on greater physical fitness levels. 


The Results 

The study found that moderate-vigorous physical activity was the most efficient at improving fitness.1 For some perspective, moderate-vigorous exercise was three times more efficient than walking, and almost 14 times more efficient than simply reducing the amount of time participants were sat down for.1

According to an article by the American Heart Association, moderate exercise can include walking two miles in 30 miles, dancing, or cycling slower than 10 miles an hour.2 Alternatively, vigorous exercise can be categorised as hiking uphill with a heavy backpack, tennis (singles) or cycling 10 miles an hour, or faster.2

However, increasing the amount of time spent exercising, or increasing your daily step-count can still offset the effects of being sedentary – spending a lot of time seated, with little physical activity.1 

Does Your Step Count Really Matter?


Does Your Step Count Really Matter?

Is 10,000 steps all a myth?

2021-09-14 09:00:15By Shannah Hatch

Take Home Message 

Some days getting in your preferred exercise can be difficult. Ideally, you should manage to complete some form of moderate-vigorous exercise a few times a week, which can include anything from running to swimming. But, if this isn’t always possible, then just getting moving is better than nothing. Whilst walking may not have been proven to increase fitness levels, there are many other benefits.  



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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Emily Wilcock

Emily Wilcock

Writer and expert

Emily is studying Business Management & Marketing at the University of Birmingham and is currently on her intern year. She has a keen interest in both writing and fitness, so is happy she can now combine the two. She likes to spend time with her friends, both in & out of the gym.

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