(HealthDay News) — Middle-aged or older people who get at least some high-intensity exercise may reduce their chances of dying early by up to 13 percent, according to a new study. The findings were published online April 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study involved 204,542 people aged 45 or older who were followed for more than six years. Researchers compared those who engaged in only moderate activities — like gentle swimming, social tennis, or household chores — with people who got some amount of vigorous activity — such as jogging, aerobics, or competitive tennis. The participants were divided into three groups based on their levels of physical activity: those who didn’t engage in any vigorous activity, those who said up to 30 percent of their exercise was vigorous, and those who said more than 30 percent of their exercise was vigorous.

The mortality rate for those who said up to 30 percent of their physical activity was vigorous was 9 percent lower than those who reported no vigorous activity. The risk of mortality dropped 13 percent for those who said that more than 30 percent of their exercise was vigorous, the study authors reported.

“The benefits of vigorous activity applied to men and women of all ages, and were independent of the total amount of time spent being active,” study author Klaus Gebel, Ph.D., of the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, said in a university news release. “The results indicate that whether or not you are obese, and whether or not you have heart disease or diabetes, if you can manage some vigorous activity it could offer significant benefits for longevity.”

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)