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High-intensity exercise has no effect on mortality rate in older populations, study suggests

High-intensity exercise does not appear to add to risk of mortality among older adults, a new study has found.


The research, which was published in The BMJ medical journal on Wednesday, found that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and MICT (moderate-intensity continuous training) for those aged 70-77 showed no increase in the risk of mortality compared to recommended daily activity.


”This study suggests that combined MICT and HIIT has no effect on all-cause mortality compared with recommended physical activity levels,” the study authors from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway, Newsgram reported.

Participants were splits into a control group, HIIT group and MICT group.

Participants were splits into a control group, HIIT group and MICT group.


The research followed a group of 1,567 men and women – 790 women and 777 men – in Norway over the course of five years.

The participants were put into a control group of 780 that followed Norwegian guidelines for physical activity, which state 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week, MICT group of 387 and a HIIT group of 400. The HIIT group did two weekly high-intensity workout sessions, while the MICT did two moderate-intensity 50 minute workout sessions a week.

At the end of the five year study, the mortality rate for the combined HIIT and MICT group was 4.5%, nearly half the expected outcome of 10%, which is based on the 2% yearly mortality rate for people aged 70-75 according to Norway’s statistics. This supports the researchers expectations from “observational studies [that] have shown that older adults who are physically active have a higher health related quality of life than those who are less physically active,” the report read.

The mortality rate for the two groups compared to the control group, which was 4.7%, suggested no large difference in mortality rate among the exercise styles.


Though researchers noted before the study 87.5% of participants reported “overall good health,” thus suggesting a possible selection bias that could have influenced results.

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Understanding Mortality Rates for Black Newborns

Research published late this summer suggests that “newborn–physician racial concordance is associated with a significant improvement in mortality for Black infants,” i.e., when they received care from Black physicians.

Lead author Brad N. Greenwood, PhD, an associate professor at George Mason University School of Business, took time to answer questions about this research.

Did you determine why Black babies have a better chance of survival?

Greenwood: I want to emphasize how cautious we need to be about speculating about the “why” question because it is speculative. This is secondary data so nailing down the exact mechanism is difficult, even if we do see the effect get larger in some places — hospitals that deliver more Black newborns — and smaller in others — Black newborns without comorbidities. But there are several possible explanations:

  • We want to be careful not to pathologize Black newborns, but there is evidence that Black newborns can be more medically challenging to treat due to social risk factors and cumulative racial and socioeconomic disadvantages of Black pregnant women. As a result, it may be that Black physicians are more aware and attuned to these challenges than white physicians.
  • Issues of spontaneous racial bias, which research does suggest manifest towards both adults and children, could also be at play. As a result, it is conceivable that the newborns are treated differently.
  • There may also be challenges accessing preferred caretakers for Black mothers, or an inefficient process of allocating physicians at the hospital level.
  • There is evidence in the literature that racial concordance increases trust and communication between patients and providers. While the newborn obviously won’t be speaking to the pediatrician, the mother may be, and this might have an effect.

All of these are possible so we want to be very careful about the interpretation, since we cannot come down firmly on one mechanism or another. Likely, it is a mix of all these things and potentially more.

What we do know is that the effect is persistent under a lot of conditions and gets bigger when Black newborns are born in hospitals that deliver many Black babies, which suggests part of the explanation may be institutional.

Your findings state that it doesn’t matter if the birth mothers share the same race as the physician. So if a white mom gives birth to a Black baby, the chances of the baby surviving are increased here as well if the doctor is Black?

Greenwood: When we are investigating the mother, the physician changes from being the pediatrician to being the obstetrician (the two physicians are almost always different). There is no spillover examination where we look at the effect of the mother’s physician on the newborn.

Why the effect doesn’t manifest for mothers is also speculative. While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it could simply be that maternal mortality is an order of magnitude lower than newborn mortality. It is also possible that there is no effect of concordance in these situations.

According to the

Bytes and Pieces of Care; Overlooked ‘Side Effect’; Poverty and Cancer Mortality

The return of the house call: Providing cancer care in bytes and pieces. (ASCO Connection)

Bipartisan Senate legislation requiring Medicaid to cover costs for routine care of clinical trial participants would “expand access to clinical trials and improve the quality of cancer research,” according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The FDA issued final guidance on labeling for breast implants, aimed at improving communication with patients about potential risks and complications.

The often-overlooked “side effect” of cancer treatment: depression. (CNN)

The Lymphoma Research Foundation announced a $10-million initiative to support clinical research and improve care for follicular lymphoma, which accounts for 20%-30% of all non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The first patient reported to be cured of HIV has died of leukemia. (Fox News)

More evidence that certain dietary factors (folate, magnesium, and dairy products) may help lower the risk of colon cancer. (Gut)

U.S. counties that have chronically high rates of poverty also have more cancer deaths. (American Association for Cancer Research)

A breast cancer survivor talks about a new type of reconstructive surgery that may overcome the numbness and restore feeling to the chest after a mastectomy. (Today)

The American Cancer Society provides some facts about reasons for callbacks after mammography and tries to allay some misconceptions and fears.

Congressional report alleges that Celgene repeatedly raised prices of its blockbuster hematology drug lenalidomide (Revlimid) for no reason other than to boost revenue. (FiercePharma)

The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provided the backdrop for a review of pancreatic cancer’s poor prognosis. (American Association for Cancer Research)

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    Charles Bankhead is senior editor for oncology and also covers urology, dermatology, and ophthalmology. He joined MedPage Today in 2007. Follow

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