One-minute bursts of activity during daily tasks could extend your life

One-minute bursts of activity during daily tasks could extend your life

Abstract: Three to four one-minute bouts of vigorous physical activity per day, such as jogging for the bus or brisk walking to complete errands, reduced the risk of all-cause and cancer-related death by 40%, and the risk of death was reduced by 49%. from cardiovascular diseases.

Source: University of Sydney

In good news for those who don’t like to play sports or go to the gym, new research finds that just three to four one-minute bursts of huffing and puffing during daily tasks is associated with a large reduction in the risk of premature death, particularly from cardiovascular disease.

Published in Natural medicine today the study is led by the Charles Perkins Center of the University of Sydney in Australia. It is the first to accurately measure the health benefits of what researchers have dubbed ‘vigorous intermittent physical activity’, or VILPA.

VILPA are very short bouts of vigorous activity (up to one to two minutes) that we enjoy every day, such as running for the bus, brisk walking while running errands, or playing high-energy games with the kids.

Researchers found that just three to four one-minute bouts of VILPA each day was associated with up to a 40 percent reduction in all-cause and cancer-related deaths, and up to a 49 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease-related deaths.

“Our study shows that similar benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be achieved by increasing the intensity of incidental activities performed as part of daily life, 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 adjusted to raise your heart rate for a minute or more.”

Most adults aged 40 and over do not participate in regular exercise or sport, but Professor Stamatakis says the study reveals how occasional physical activity can overcome many barriers.

“Increasing the intensity of daily activities does not require a time commitment, preparation, club membership, or special skills. It simply involves picking up the pace while walking or doing household chores with a little more energy,” he said.

What did they discover about exercise as part of everyday life?

  • About 89 percent of all participants worked VILPA.
  • Among those who worked at VILPA:
    • 93 percent of all VILPA attacks last up to 1 minute.
    • On average, every day the participants performed eight VILPA bouts of up to 1 minute each, for a total of 6 minutes per day.
    • On average, each VILPA skirmish lasted about 45 seconds.
  • The greatest gains were seen when comparing those with about four to five attacks per day to those without VILPA.
  • However, greater benefits were found with higher amounts of VILPA, suggesting that the more the merrier.
  • A maximum of 11 attacks per day was associated with a 65 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular death and a 49 percent reduction in the risk of cancer-related death, compared with no VILPA.

Interestingly, a comparative analysis of the vigorous activity of 62,000 people who exercised regularly produced comparable results. This means that whether vigorous activity is done as part of structured exercise or household chores, it does not compromise the health benefits.

How was the research conducted?

Researchers used data from a wrist-worn tracker from the UK Biobank, a large biomedical database, to measure the activity of more than 25,000 ‘non-exercisers’, participants who self-reported not playing sport or exercising during their free time .

Using this method, the scientists were able to conclude that any activity recorded by this group was incidental physical activity performed as part of everyday life.

The team then accessed health data that allowed them to track the participants for seven years.

The studies are observational, which means they cannot directly establish cause and effect. However, the researchers took rigorous statistical measures to reduce the possibility that the results could be explained by differences in health status between participants.

“These findings show how valuable detailed and objective measurements of physical activity can be when collected on a large population. We are incredibly grateful to all of the 100,000 UK Biobank participants who wore the activity monitor for 7 days to generate this valuable data,” said Professor Naomi Allen, UK Biobank Chief Scientist.

Call to update your physical activity guidelines

An international team from the University of Sydney, the Big Data Institute of the University of Oxford (UK), University College London (UK), the University of Glasgow (UK), the University of Southern Denmark and McMaster University (Canada) call for guidelines for physical activity and clinical tips that are updated to keep pace with this evolving field.

VILPA are very short bouts of vigorous activity (up to one to two minutes) that we enjoy every day, such as running for the bus, brisk walking while running errands, or playing high-energy games with the kids. The image is in the public domain

Current global guidelines suggest that the health benefits of vigorous-intensity physical activity are gained through structured physical activity such as sports or leisure-time running.

It was only in 2020 that the WHO Global Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour, co-chaired by Professor Stamatakis, recognized that ‘all activity counts’ and removed the requirement that activity should be accumulated in 10-minute bouts.

“Our previous knowledge of the health benefits of vigorous physical activity comes from questionnaire-based studies, but questionnaires cannot measure brief bouts of any intensity,” Professor Stamatakis said.

See also

This shows the person's hand with the index finger pointing up

“The ability of wearable technology to detect ‘micropatterns’ of physical activity, such as VILPA, has enormous potential for understanding the most feasible and time-efficient ways in which people can benefit from physical activity, whether it is for recreation or as part of everyday life. “

The authors declare that there are no conflicting interests.

Financing: The study is funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Grant and Ideas Grant. Individual researchers funded by the Welcome Trust, National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Novo Nordisk, British Heart Foundation Center of Research Excellence, Alan Turing Institute, British Heart Foundation, Health Data Research UK (initiative funded by UK Research and Innovation, Department for health and social care and devolved administrations, and leading medical research charities.

About this exercise and longevity research news

Author: Michelle Blowes
Source: University of Sydney
Contact: Michelle Blowes – University of Sydney
Picture: The image is in the public domain

Original research: Open access.
Association of physical activity of an intense intermittent lifestyle measured by wearable devices with mortality” by Emmanuel Stamatakis et al. Natural medicine


Association of physical activity of an intense intermittent lifestyle measured by wearable devices with mortality

Wearable devices can capture unexplored movement patterns such as short bursts of vigorous intermittent physical activity (VILPA) that are embedded in everyday life, rather than being undertaken as leisure-time exercise.

Here, we examined the association of VILPA with all-cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer mortality in 25,241 non-exercising individuals (mean age 61.8 years, 14,178 women/11,063 men) in the UK Biobank. During a mean follow-up of 6.9 years, during which 852 deaths occurred, VILPA was inversely associated with all three outcomes in an almost linear fashion.

Compared to participants who did not engage in VILPA, participants who engaged in VILPA at the mean frequency of a VILPA pattern of 3 standardized attack lengths per day (lasting 1 or 2 minutes each) showed a 38%–40% reduction all-cause and cancer mortality risk and a 48%-49% reduction in CVD risk. Moreover, a median VILPA pattern duration of 4.4 min per day was associated with a 26%–30% reduction in the risk of death from all causes and cancer and a 32%–34% reduction in the risk of CVD.

We obtained similar results when we repeated the above analyzes for vigorous physical activity (VPA) in 62,344 UK Biobank participants who exercised (1,552 deaths, 35,290 women/27,054 men). These results show that small amounts of intense physical activity without exercise are associated with significantly lower mortality.

VILPA in non-exercisers appears to produce similar effects to VPA in exercisers, suggesting that VILPA may be a suitable target for physical activity, particularly in people who are unable or unwilling to exercise.

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