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Is Intense Exercise Better For Your Heart?

I was doing a bit of self-learning recently and came across an interesting read on the BBC News website, covering recent research into the heart health benefits of physical activity.

The study documents the combined findings of researchers in Leicester, Cambridge, and the National Institute for Health Care Research (NIHR). Participants were asked to wear activity trackers in research that monitored a fairly big sample group of 88,000 people.


The study, published in the European Heart Journal, found that while physical activity at any level had health benefits, there was a greater reduction in cardiovascular disease when exercise was at least at a moderate intensity level.

Cardiovascular disease rates were 14% lower when moderate-to-intense exercise accounted for 20%, rather than 10% of overall physical activity energy expenditure. That’s no great surprise, but what is surprising is that this was true even in those who had otherwise had low levels of activity.

The current physical activity guidelines from the UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that adults should be doing “150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity – such as running” every week.

The researchers who carried out the study said that until recently it had not been clear whether overall physical activity volume was more important for health or if more intense activity offered additional benefits.

fitness tracker

This is where the wearable devices helped. They allowed the team to accurately record the intensity and length of exercise sessions. They went on to conclude that moderate and vigorous activity levels offer a greater reduction in early death. The higher intensity of physical activity may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, over and above the benefit seen from the total duration of physical activity, as it pushes the body to adapt to the higher effort required.

Professor Tom Yates of Cambridge’s concluded that simple behavioural-change messages that “every move counts” encourage everyone to increase their overall physical activity, and ideally incorporate more moderate/vigorous exercise. How about some ideas to get you started?

5 Ways To Increase the intensity of your workout

The goal here is really quite simple. We want to achieve a higher heart rate and get out of breath. So for example, instead of going for a leisurely walk, go for a brisk walk or a jog.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to get that intensity level up in the gym too.

Before I go into some ideas please know that any techniques or routines that I discuss here are professional and personal opinions from a leading health and fitness expert. If you are unsure about your ability to exercise, then always seek advice from a GP.

Firstly, always begin with a mobility drill to warm up and reduce the chance of injury.

For the novice mover, use these exercises to get your heart rate up:

  1. Step ups
  2. Jumping jacks

If you’re no longer new to exercise but still consider yourself a beginner then try these:

  1. Squat Jumps
  2. Stair Sprints

For the intermediate/advanced users you might want to try:

  1. Kettlebell swings
  2. Burpees

We believe it’s important to first warm up properly 

Also, you should pick a level of exercise and intensity that aligned with your own level of fitness  Do not go wild and end up hurting yourself. Do it safely and correctly building up the intensity over time.

If you’re looking for professional guidance then get in touch and we can guide you expertly and safely through the process.

Until next time, “Strength for Life”



Davie McConnachie

Davie McConnachie is Scotland’s leading health and wellness coach, multi-award-winning gym owner, motivational speaker and the founder of DMC Fitness, a fitness education facility known as the premier choice for 1-2-1 personal training. He has inspired thousands of people to fall in love with fitness – his true purpose and mission in life.

Diving into the world of fitness and wellness has helped Davie to deal with his own trauma and inner demons. He, overcame many dark times using his own unique methods to continue his cycle of healing.