BACKGROUND: Although guidelines suggest that vigorous physical activity (PA) confers "extra" benefits compared with those from moderate-intensity activity alone, the magnitude of this additional benefit is unclear. The aim was to compare the reduction in risk of hypertension (HT) and depressive symptoms (DS) for 12 yr in middle-age women who reported (a) only moderate-intensity PA (MOPA) and (b) a combination of moderate and vigorous PA (MVPA), after controlling for overall volume of activity.
METHODS: The study involved 11,285 participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, who completed surveys in 1998 (age = 46-52 yr), 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010. Generalized estimating equation models (with 3-yr time lag) were used to examine the relationship between PA in seven categories from 0 to >2000 MET·min·wk and occurrence of HT and DS for women who reported MOPA or MVPA.
RESULTS: For HT, risk was slightly lower for MVPA than for MOPA across the entire range of PA levels, but this difference was only significant at the highest PA level (>2000; odds ratio [OR] = 0.80 MOPA and 0.56 MVPA). For DS, OR values were similar in both groups up to 500 MET·min·wk, then slightly lower for MVPA than for MOPA at higher PA levels. Again, this difference was only significant at the highest PA level (>2000; OR = 0.57 MOPA and 0.42 MVPA). OR values were slightly attenuated in adjusted models.
CONCLUSIONS: Doing both vigorous and moderate activity does not have significant additional benefits in terms of HT and DS, above those from moderate-intensity activity alone, except at very high levels of PA.