Doctor and activist

How Much Exercise Should You Do?

17 November 2023

It has been shown that exercise lessens mortality and lengthens life by lessening the chance of cancer and cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes.

So the question has become ’How much exercise do you have to do; how long and how hard?’

New research has been done in 2 major studies, and an editorial that evaluates them.

In a study by Stamatakis in the European Heart Journal, the amount of Vigorous Physical Activity (VPA) was measured for a week in 71,893 UK Biobank middle-aged adults using a wrist-worn accelerometer.  Their mortality was compared after 5 years and was:

No exercise                                                                           4.2%,

1-10 mins of exercise/week                                                 2.1%

10-30 mins                                                                              1.8%

30-60 mins                                                                              1.5%

over 60 mins                                                                             1.1%

What is remarkable about this is how little vigorous physical activity is needed to halve mortality!

There was also a linear relationship between the frequency of exercise and mortality.

In other words, the more often you exercise the better, with 27 times a week having the lowest mortality, but only short bursts are needed.


A similar study by Demsey on 88,412 middle aged UK Biobank adults showed that a higher amount of Physical Activity Energy Expended (PAEE) was associated with a lower mortality after 6.8 years.

If this energy expenditure was made up of more Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) there was an additional benefit.  Cardiovascular disease rates were 14% lower when MVRA was 10-20% of PAEE.

The bottom line is that exercise is good and incorporating a little in your day will benefit you.

Vigorous exercise can probably be equated with being short of breath, so walking up a hill or steps briskly rather than strolling is better.  Obviously any sort of sport that involves some period of exertion is good if you are able to do it. If you have done no exercise for a while or have very poor fitness, just increase it slowly – walk a bit faster initially and build up from there.

It is good to know that every bit helps!


Here are the studies:

Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

View more posts from this author