Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 624–632 | Cite as

Effects of moderate and vigorous physical activity on fitness and body composition

  • Clemens DrenowatzEmail author
  • Vivek K. Prasad
  • Gregory A. Hand
  • Robin P. Shook
  • Steven N. Blair


Current physical activity (PA) guidelines indicate that moderate-intensity (MPA) and vigorous intensity (VPA) PA provide similar benefits when total volume is equal. The present study examined the associations of MPA and VPA with body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness in free-living young adults. A total of 197 young adults (52.8 % male) were followed over a period of 15 months. Body composition was assessed via dual X-ray absorptiometry and time spent in various PA intensities was determined with a multi-sensor device every 3 months. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed with a graded exercise test at baseline and 15-months follow-up. Change in VPA was positively associated with cardiorespiratory fitness while MPA had beneficial associations with percent body fat. In overweight/obese participants the association with VO2peak was similar for MVPA bouts and VPA. Even though MPA and VPA have positive associations with overall health, their associations on key health parameters differ.


Physical activity intensity Body weight Percent body fat Exercise Young adults 



The authors wish to thank the advisory board, staff, and participants of the Energy Balance Study. The study was funded by a research grant from the Coca Cola Company. The funder had no role in any aspect of the study design, data collection, or data analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Clemens Drenowatz has received funding from the Coca Cola Company. Gregory A. Hand has received funding from the NIH, Health Resources and Services Administration, American Heart Association, The Coca Cola Company, and TechnoGym. Robin P. Shook has received travel grants from The Coca Cola Company. Steven N. Blair receives book royalties (<$5000/y) from Human Kinetics and honoraria for lectures and consultations from scientific educational and lay groups. He has received research grants from the NIH, Department of Defense, Body Media, and The Coca Cola Company. Vivek K. Prasad declares that he does not have any conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clemens Drenowatz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vivek K. Prasad
    • 1
  • Gregory A. Hand
    • 2
  • Robin P. Shook
    • 3
  • Steven N. Blair
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Exercise Science, Public Health Research CenterUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.School of Public HealthWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  3. 3.Department of KinesiologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  4. 4.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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