In good news for those who don’t like playing sport or going to the gym, new research finds just three to four one-minute bursts of huffing and puffing during daily tasks is associated with large reductions in the risk of premature death, particularly from cardiovascular disease.
Published in Nature Medicine, the study is led by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre in Australia. It is the first to accurately measure the health benefits of what researchers have termed ‘vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity’ or VILPA.
VILPA is the very short bouts of vigorous activity (up to one to two minutes) we do with gusto each day, like running for the bus, bursts of power walking while doing errands or playing high-energy games with the kids.
The researchers found that just three to four one-minute bouts of VILPA every day is associated with up to 40 percent reduction in all-cause and cancer-related mortality, and up to a 49 percent reduction in death related to cardiovascular disease.
“Our study shows similar benefits to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be achieved through increasing the intensity of incidental activities done as part of daily living, and the more the better,” said lead author Emmanuel Stamatakis, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Population Health at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.
“A few very short bouts totaling three to four minutes a day could go a long way, and there are many daily activities that can be tweaked to raise your heart rate for a minute or so.”
The majority of adults aged 40 and over do not take part in regular exercise or sport, but Professor Stamatakis said the study reveals how incidental physical activity can overcome many barriers.
“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.