Daily exercise also has health benefits, study shows

published on 01/08/2023 06:00 / updated on 01/08/2023 11:23


Living a more active lifestyle is probably one of the most popular items on your New Year’s resolution list. For those who give up on the thought of spending hours breaking a sweat, a recent study offers a bonus: It doesn’t take a lot of time or high performance to reap the health benefits. The researchers don’t suggest dropping out of the gym or leaving the running club. They show, however, that moving the body, even if apparently inefficient, can lead to surprising results.

At the University of Sydney, Australia, researchers have found that short, vigorous bouts of exercise integrated into the daily routine, lasting just one or two minutes, are associated with a lower rate of premature mortality. The research is the first, according to the authors, to accurately measure the benefits of so-called lifestyle intermittent vigorous physical activity, or Vilpa, in English. The article was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

These are very short periods of activity, one to two minutes, that are part of the daily routine, such as chasing the bus or playing tag with the kids. According to the researchers, just three to four 60-second sessions of Vilpa per day are associated with a 40 percent reduction in all-cause mortality, including cancer, and up to a 49 percent reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease.

“Our study shows that similar benefits to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be achieved by increasing the intensity of casual activities performed as part of daily life. And the more, the better,” said the lead author Emmanuel Stamatakis, professor of physical activity, lifestyle and population health at the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney. “A few very short sessions totaling three to four minutes a day can help a lot, and there are many daily activities that can be adjusted to get your heart rate up for about a minute.” The participants’ physical activity level was measured by sensors, increasing the accuracy of the results.

According to Stamakis, global surveys indicate that the majority of adults over 40 do not exercise or play sports on a regular basis. She says the new study shows how occasional, i.e. unplanned, physical activity can benefit this population. “Increasing the intensity of daily activities doesn’t require a time commitment, preparation, gym membership, or special skills. It’s simply about picking up the pace when walking or doing household chores with a little more energy,” she points out. .

Seven years

Researchers used wrist tracker data from UK Biobank, a large UK biomedical database, to measure the movement of more than 25,000 non-exercising people who reported not engaging in sport or physical activity in their spare time. . Methodically, therefore, they concluded that any movement recorded in this group was involuntary, performed as part of daily life. The team then had access to the participants’ health data, which allowed them to follow up on the volunteers over the course of seven years.

The results indicated that 89% of them did a little Vilpa a day, for a total of six minutes on average. Overall, each activity lasted about 45 seconds. The health benefits were proportional to higher amounts of sessions: 11 days were associated with a 65% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular death and 49% from cancer, compared to those who logged no voluntary exercise. In the case of four or five Vilpa, the mortality from these causes was 40% and 48% lower, respectively. The authors emphasize that the study is observational, ie it is not possible to establish a direct relationship of cause and effect.

When comparing the sample results with vigorous activity data from 62,000 people who exercised regularly, the scientists found similar results. That is, the health benefits are similar for people who exercise in sports or go to gyms and for those who move vigorously in daily activities.

Until 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) only considered structured (intentional) exercise. However, the WHO Global Guidelines Committee on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior, co-chaired by Stamatakis, has recognized that every way to keep the body moving counts. Additionally, the indication that cumulative sessions of at least 10 minutes are required has been removed from the text.

‘The study is observational. Therefore, there is always the possibility of reverse causation, meaning that people with naturally high levels of fitness may also have other constitutional factors that protect them from disease,’ notes David Stensel, a professor of metabolism at the University of California. exercise at the University of Loughborough, England, which was not involved in the research.

He also cautions that the authors did not demonstrate that lifestyle intermittent vigorous physical activity increases cardiorespiratory fitness, a potential mechanism to explain the findings. “However, the findings are both important and provocative and should stimulate further research, generating more information on the potential health benefits of this type of activity,” he believes.


“It’s simply about picking up the pace when walking or doing household chores with a little more energy”

Emmanuel Stamatakis, professor at the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney and lead author of the study

Even walking awkwardly helps.

Tea bag style, based on the Monty Python comedians
Tea bag style, based on the Monty Python comedians
(photo: reproduction)

Awkward walking for a few minutes may be more enjoyable and lead to higher calorie burn than regular walking, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers evaluated a walking style made famous by the Monty Python comedy Ministry of Silly Walks, a satire on the inefficiency of bureaucracy in the British civil service. In the show, the characters Teabag and Putey, played by John Cleese and Michael Palin, moved in a funny way, with swings of the legs back and forth.

Glenn Gaesser, lead author of the study and researcher at the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, USA, explains that the idea to study the calorie expenditure of this type of walking came from the fact that global rates of lo sedentary lifestyle has not changed in the last 20 years, despite campaigns to stimulate physical activity and increase cardiovascular capacity. He thought a more fun and fast-paced style of exercise might appeal to people who aren’t comfortable with the usual ways.

To do this, he carried out tests with 13 healthy people between the ages of 22 and 71, who watched a video teaching the Ministry of Stupid Walks to walk. Subsequently, the volunteers tested this type of move for five minutes, covering an indoor circuit of 30m. They used monitoring equipment that allowed them to calculate average speed, oxygen consumption, energy expenditure, and exercise intensity. Surprisingly, walking like the British sitcom characters burned 2.5 times more calories than regular walking.

Researchers estimate that adults can achieve 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week by walking teabag-style, instead of their usual, for about 11 minutes a day. Moving 12 to 19 minutes a day in this way would increase energy expenditure by about 100 kcal over the period. The health gains are many, they argue, highlighting the increase in cardiorespiratory fitness and the reduction in mortality risk. “Our analysis of the energy expended during different walking styles seeks to encourage people to move their bodies in a more energetic and hopefully more joyful way,” says Gaesser.

expert word

“What is different about this research is that the researchers investigated how exercise patterns relate to future health, whether the participant intended to exercise or not. They found an association between better health in adulthood and short bouts of vigorous activity, whether the exercise was done intentionally as part of a program or just as part of the routine, like running for the bus. The main limitation is that these data are observational”.

Paul Leeson, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Oxford

The train

– 3 to 4 bouts of 60 seconds per day of these activities have been associated with a 40% reduction in all-cause mortality and up to a 49% reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease

11 unintentional vigorous activities for 45 seconds per day were associated with a 65% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular death and a 49% reduction in the risk of death from cancer

5 unintentional vigorous activities for 45 seconds per day were associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular death and a 48% reduction in death from cancer

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