One-minute bursts of everyday activity linked to a longer life
Finding time for exercise around work, family and life’s other commitments can be tricky business, but as research continues to show, there is still a lot to gain from squeezing in short spurts here and there. A new study has driven this point home by highlighting the effects of one-minute bouts of vigorous activity, which were linked to a longer life in thousands of subjects.
From studies demonstrating how three-second dumbbell workouts can boost strength to others showing how 10-minute bursts of exercise can supercharge PTSD therapies, we are seeing a growing emphasis on the benefits of short and sharp workouts for the time-poor. Adding to this pool of knowledge is a newly published study led by scientists at the University of Sydney, which focused on what they call “vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity” (VILPA).
These are defined as short bouts of vigorous activity lasting a minute or two such as running for a bus, power-walking to the post office or high-energy playtime with the kids. To explore the health benefits of VILPA, the scientists drew on wrist-worn tracker data from 25,000 people who do no exercise or sports during their leisure time.
This meant that any physical activity undertaken by the subjects could be categorized as incidental and occurring throughout their typical everyday life. Around 89% of the cohort did some type of VILPA, and about 93% of those bouts lasted up to a minute. These were occurring an average of eight times a day, totaling around six minutes of high-intensity activity.
By then drawing on health data over a seven-year follow-up period, the scientists were able to explore the relationship between VILPA and the risk of premature death from three main causes – cancer, cardiovascular disease and a general “all-cause mortality." From the 852 deaths recorded during the follow-up, the scientists found that just three bouts of VILPA each day was associated with a 38% reduction in all-cause and cancer mortality, along with a 48% reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality risk.
Undertaking 11 bouts of VILPA a day was associated with a 65% reduction in cardiovascular death risk and 49% reduction in cancer-related risk, compared to no VILPA at all. The scientists also compared the effects of VILPA with 62,000 people who undertook regular exercise, and found the results were similar.
“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. “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 research was published in the journal Nature Medicine, and the team discusses the work in the video below.
Source: University of Sydney