• The benefits of short bursts of physical activity have been demonstrated by new research
  • Vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (VILPA) refers to short bouts of physical activity
  • Three to four one-minute bursts of VILPA activity can reduce risk of premature death by 40%

New research has revealed that even three to four one-minute bursts of vigorous activity during daily work is connected with significant decreases in the risk of early death, particularly from cardiovascular disease.

The health advantages of what experts refer to as “vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity,” or VILPA, are being measured for the first time with accuracy.

VILPA stands for very brief bursts of intense physical activity, which can last up to one to two minutes.

Similar to exercise snacks, examples of VILPA include sprinting to catch the bus, sprinting while running errands, bursts of activity while doing the housework, and playing high-intensity games with the kids.

Researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia measured the activity of over 25,000 “non-exercisers,” or people who self-reported that they undertake no sports or exercise during their free time, using wrist-worn tracker data from the UK Biobank.

The researchers came to the conclusion that any activity that was noted by this group was simply everyday, incidental physical activity.

Researchers then used health information to follow the subjects over a seven-year period.

The researchers discovered that:

  • Performing just three to four one-minute sessions of VILPA per day can reduce mortality from all causes and cancer by up to 40% and cardiovascular disease deaths by up to 49%
  • Performing 11 bouts of VILPA per day was associated with a 65% reduction in cardiovascular death risk and 49% reduction in cancer-related death risk, compared to no VILPA.

Larger benefits were seen with participants performing larger VILPA amounts, suggesting the more the better.

However, the studies are observational, and hence they cannot conclusively prove cause and effect.

The study was published in Nature Medicine.

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