Short bursts of activity reduce your risk of premature death, study finds

Short bursts of activity reduce your risk of premature death, study finds

Most of us know that regular exercise is important for our health and longevity. But with our busy schedules, many of us struggle to find the time to work out.

Data from our latest study showed that you don’t need a long workout to get health benefits from exercise.

Research has found that as little as 3 or 4 minutes of short bursts of vigorous activity throughout the day were associated with a significantly lower risk of premature death from all causes compared to people who did none .

To conduct our study, we recruited 25,241 participants from the UK Biobank study who said they did not engage in leisure-time physical activity or recreational walking more than once a week. About 56% of the participants were women, with an average age of about 62 years old.

To make sure we got an accurate picture of their activity levels, we gave participants wearable fitness trackers – similar to smartwatches – that they wore on their wrist for a week.

This allowed us to accurately monitor their activity levels throughout the day, something most people struggle to remember.

We then linked the data collected at the start of the study with participants’ clinical records for an average of almost seven years afterwards. This allowed us to verify whether any of the participants had died and the cause of death.

We were careful to statistically control our analysis for factors that might otherwise explain the results – such as a person’s diet or whether they smoked.

We also excluded all participants who had already been diagnosed with cancer and heart disease at the start of the study, as well as participants who died within the first two years of the follow-up period. This allowed us to ensure that the results were scientifically more robust.

Surprisingly, even though the participants did not report doing any structured exercise, around 89% recorded what is called vigorous intermittent physical activity on the tracker.

It is a physical activity that usually lasts less than a minute and is generally part of our daily lives. Some examples of this type of physical activity include playing with children and pets, carrying groceries, quickly climbing upstairs, walking uphill, or running to catch a train.

On average, participants logged eight short bursts of activity each day, totaling just under four and a half minutes.

We found that just three to four short bursts of daily activity were associated with up to a 40% reduction in premature death from any cause, as well as cancer death. It was also associated with an up to 49% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The benefits tended to level off with the shorter periods of activity a person received. The largest gains were seen when comparing those who had about four to five fights a day to those who didn’t.

These results are striking but seem to line up with what other research has shown. Small-scale trials have shown that very small doses of vigorous intermittent activity can improve cardiorespiratory fitness, a key predictor of longevity.

High-intensity exercise training (short workouts between 10 and 30 minutes, where short bursts of intense exercise are followed by periods of rest) has also been shown to have favorable effects on blood sugar control. , cholesterol, blood pressure and obesity, which can less risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

But our study is the first to show a link between unstructured physical activity and positive health benefits.

daily activity

A large proportion of adults do not meet current recommendations for physical activity. One in four people in England do less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week.

Many cite time constraints as the reason. By showing in our study the health benefits daily activity can have, it may be easier to motivate people who don’t exercise regularly to include at least a few short bursts of activity in their day.

Existing physical activity guidelines around the world are based on studies that have examined the benefits of structured periods of continuous activity – often in the form of sports, gym workouts or a daily run .

But our study shows that future public health guidelines on physical activity could consider specific recommendations on short bursts of activity that can easily be incorporated into daily life.

Although the wearable trackers we used in our study did not provide information on where these short bursts of activity occurred, many simple, everyday tasks can be considered vigorous intermittent physical activity. .

So if you’re someone who can find it hard to adapt to a workout or can feel intimidated by the task, there’s probably a lot you could do in your daily life for yourself. help you stay healthy – plus plenty of opportunities to increase the amount and intensity of the exercise you do.The conversation

Mark Hamer, Professor of Sports and Exercise Medicine, UCL; Emmanuel Stamatakis, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Population Health, University of Sydney, and Matthew Ahmadi, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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