What would you say if I could give you a pill that could reduce your risk of death over the next 10 years by almost 90% and reduce your risk of dying from cancer alone by almost 70%?

Unfortunately that pill doesn’t exist, but there is something that can give you this amazing benefit.

It’s high intensity workouts.

In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, people over 50 years old who participated in regular vigorous exercise had a dramatic reduction in their risk of death from cancer, heart disease and other causes over the 10 years of the study.

People who engaged in mild exercise also saw a benefit, but the reduction in risk was much less than for those who really broke a sweat.

Compared to those who sat on the couch and watched TV, people who exercised at a mild intensity had about a 50% reduction in risk of death, which amounts to about half the benefit obtained from vigorous exercise.

Bottom line, the results from this study showed that the more you exercised the more likely you were to survive the entire trial.

What’s the takeaway?

What this means for us is that walking or other modest exertion is good, but more is better.

As we hit 50 or 60 years old it is natural to start to decrease the intensity of exercise. Our workouts become more laid-back, we hit the gym less often, and we start to walk or take a leisurely hike for exercise. However, if we allow ourselves to slow down, evidence suggests that we are missing a great opportunity to turn back the clock and extend our lives meaningfully.

Besides, the way I look at it, if you’ve gone through the trouble to get off the couch and go for a walk you’ve already done the hardest part – getting the body moving. Pushing yourself to work out harder is easy in comparison.

So what should you do?

While different forms of exercise may improve your balance, flexibility, strength or stamina, this study shows that one of the most important factors in extending your life is getting high intensity workouts any way you can.

Moving your intensity higher can be as easy as starting to set goals for your workouts.

Do you usually walk 1 mile in 30 minutes? Try to get your time down to 28 minutes tomorrow. Making more progress in less time is a great way to see progress and start pushing yourself to get fitter every day.

If you’re over 50 you’ll want to talk to your doctor before starting any vigorous exercise program. I generally ask members to get an exercise stress test before beginning to exercise. This test allows us to ensure that your heart is strong enough to handle vigorous exertion.

Stress testing is especially important if you have a heart condition or have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other risk factors for heart disease. However, these are the people for whom vigorous exercise is likely to provide the most benefit as well.

If you want to add a few years to your life, it’s time to get out there and start sweating!