THURSDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The intensity of exercise, not the duration, is what's important in terms of improving your chances of living a longer life, a new study suggests.

Researchers who looked at cyclists in Denmark found that men with high levels of cycling intensity lived 5.3 years longer, and those with average intensity lived 2.9 years longer, than men with low intensity.

Among female cyclists, those with high intensity lived 3.9 years longer, and those with average intensity lived 2.2 years longer, compared to women with low intensity.

The study was presented Monday at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Paris.

Currrent guidelines recommend that adults get 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity in their leisure time, preferably every day of the week. The most beneficial levels of intensity, duration and frequency haven't been established.

The findings suggest "that a greater part of daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous, based on the individual's own perception of intensity," study author Peter Schnohr said in news release from the European Society of Cardiology.

In a previous study, Schnohr and his colleagues also found a link between higher levels of intensity and longer life.

Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers physical activity guidelines for different age groups.