Dec. 9, 2022 – People who exert themselves for 1 or 2 minutes a few times daily while climbing stairs, walking to work, or doing routine tasks around the house can greatly reduce their risk of heart disease and cancer, says a new study published Thursday in Nature Medicine.
University of Sydney researchers looked at data collected over 7 years from fitness trackers worn by about 25,000 people in the United Kingdom who did not exercise regularly.
People who recorded three or so daily bouts of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity, or VILPA, had about a 50% reduced risk of death because of cardiovascular problems and about a 40% reduced risk of death by cancer and other causes, compared to less vigorous people, the study showed.
To gain the benefit, people need to huff and puff a little while exerting themselves. Examples of VILPA include running for the bus, bursts of power walking while doing errands, or playing high-energy games with the kids, a news release from the University of Sydney said.
The research shows once again that people don’t have to spend hours at the gym to improve their health, said Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor of physical activity, lifestyle, and population health at the University of Sydney.
“Upping the intensity of daily activities requires no time commitment, no preparation, no club memberships, no special skills. It simply involves stepping up the pace while walking or doing the housework with a bit more energy,” he said.
Using data from fitness trackers as opposed to questionnaires allowed researchers to find “micropatterns” in the benefits of bursts of activity, Stamatakis said.
A comparative study of 62,000 people who exercise regularly and also had bursts of VILPA found similar results, according to the new release.