Does Participation in Recommended Levels of Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity Decrease Participation in Moderate-Intensity Physical Activity?

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Gavin McCormack
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Billie Giles-Corti
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Background:

The influence of participating in vigorous-intensity physical activity and associated compensatory declines in other types of physical activity in the general population has not been studied well; hence, it is unknown if participation in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity influence the likelihood of participating in recommended levels of moderate-intensity physical activity.

Methods:

Face-to-face interviews were conducted on healthy adults (n = 1803), 18 to 59 years of age, recruited from the top and lower quintiles of socioeconomic status within Perth, Western Australia. Data on television watching, vigorous-intensity activity, moderate-intensity activity, and walking for recreation and transport were used in the analysis. Logistic regression was used to determine whether participation in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity activity predicted participation in recommended levels of other types of physical activity and television watching.

Results:

After controlling for age, gender, education, and social advantage, participating in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity (≥90 min/week) was not found to be associated with walking for transport (≥150 min/week) but was found to be significantly associated (OR = 1.38, 95%CI = 1.04–1.82) with recommended levels of recreational walking (≥150 min/week). Participation in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity was associated with a reduced likelihood of watching television more than 10 hours per/week (OR = 0.71, 95%CI = 0.57–0.89).

Conclusion:

In those who participate in recommended levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity, there appears to be no compensatory response in other moderate-intensity activities. Given the added health benefits associated with vigorous-intensity activity, concurrent promotion of moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity guidelines is warranted, with no evidence that participation in vigorous-intensity activity will negatively influence participation in recommended levels of moderate-intensity activity.

The authors are with the School of Population Health at The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy., Crawely, Perth, Western Australia 6009, Australia.

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