Want to know the most effective way to improve your fitness? Keep reading.

In the largest study to date, scientists have determined which types of habitual physical activity are best for improving cardiorespiratory fitness. These results are very important because better cardiorespiratory fitness significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia and premature death.

For this study, scientists used sophisticated accelerometers to accurately measure the intensity and duration of movements of 2,070 adult subjects over a week on two separate occasions, seven or eight years apart. Study subjects also underwent detailed and comprehensive measurements of their cardiorespiratory fitness on both occasions. The objective of the study was to investigate the relationship between habitual movements/exercises and physical fitness.

The accelerometers measured steps per day, time spent sitting/still, and levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

The results were not surprising. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was clearly the most effective in improving fitness. Specifically, it was three times better than just walking and 14 times more effective than reducing time spent sitting. The scientists also noted that moderate to vigorous activity and more steps per day may partially mitigate the harmful effects of excessive sitting.

Conclusion: While more steps are always better, if you want to get the most out of your time spent moving, aim to engage in more moderate to vigorous activity (usually enough movement to make you feel a little out of breath and somewhat uncomfortable), especially if you have to sit for a long time.

Dr. Ann Kulze is founder and CEO of Just Wellness and has a knack for breaking down the science of healthy eating and healthy living into simple, easy-to-digest messages. She has been featured on “Dr. Oz,” “Oprah and Friends,” WebMD, and in U.S. News & World Report. Alabama NewsCenter publishes Dr. Ann’s advice.