Shorter Work Outs Could Lower Cancer Risk, New Study Says

Shorter Work Outs Could Lower Cancer Risk, New Study Says

Maintaining an active lifestyle looks different for everyone. Many people with labor-intensive jobs may never feel the need to step foot in a gym or hop on a treadmill in order to stay healthy. For those with long hours of sedentary work, however, half an hour on a stationary bike could make a huge difference.

Staying active is an important way to live a longer and healthier life, so finding the form of fitness that works best for you is most important. However, certain kinds of exercise may be linked to particular benefits. A new study out of the University of Sydney published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology found that fewer than five minutes of rigorous physical activity could lower the risk of some cancers by as much as 32 percent. An article from Science Daily provided the following summary:

The study used data from wearable devices to track the daily activity of over 22,000 ‘non-exercisers’. Researchers then followed the group’s clinical health records for close to seven years to monitor for cancer.

As few as four to five minutes of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity or ‘VILPA’ was associated with a substantially lower cancer risk compared to those who undertook no VILPA.

Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity, or VILPA for short, was coined by researchers at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre to describe the very short bursts of activity — around one minute each — we do with gusto each day. This includes activities like vigorous housework, carrying heavy shopping around the grocery store, bursts of power walking or playing high-energy games with the kids.

The new research serves as a good reminder that not all physical activity needs to confined to the traditional concepts of a “workout” like going to the gym or swimming laps in a pool. Doing yard work or landscaping at your home can provide very intense exercise that might do more to help improve your health than 15 minutes on an elliptical machine.

Emmanuel Stamatakis, the lead author of the study, said VILPA is essentially just “applying the principles of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to your everyday life.”

“We know the majority of middle-aged people don’t regularly exercise which puts them at increased cancer risk,” Stamatakis said. “It’s only through the advent of wearable technology like activity trackers that we are able to look at the impact of short bursts of incidental physical activity done as part of daily living.”


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