Study: One-minute bursts of activity during daily tasks could prolong your life

Visitors walk across a newly-renovated boardwalk leading through Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, Calif. (Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Exercising and playing sports may not be everyone’s preferred choice to stay in shape but a new study reveals that ramping up your energy level in daily activities may help you live longer.

A study by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre in Australia suggests that three to four one-minute bursts of huffing and puffing during daily activities can lower your chances of premature death, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.

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To conduct the study, researchers worked with more than 25,000 adults (the average age of participants nearly 62 years old) who said they don’t exercise. The team used wrist-worn tracking data from UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database, to measure the activity of the participants. 

The study, published in Nature Medicine, tested what researchers call "vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity" (VILPA). Researchers define VILPA as short bursts of activity, roughly two minutes, that people do daily, including running for the bus, power walking while doing errands, or playing "high-energy games" with the kids, the study explains.

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Based on their findings, the team discovered that three to four one-minute bursts of VILPA daily can reduce 40% of cancer-related deaths and can reduce deaths related to cardiovascular disease by up to 49%, according to the study

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"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," Emmanuel Stamatakis, lead author and professor of physical activity, lifestyle and population health at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre, said in a statement. 

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.