5 Minutes a Day can Save Your Life

Posted: Jan 24 in Activity Recommendations by
picture of person running

According to a new study published in Nature Medicine, even for people who don’t regularly go to the gym, short spurts of activity may prolong lifespan.

Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity

At least 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommend for general health. Moderate intensity physical activity is any activity equivalent to brisk walking or more. However, many adults don’t exercise at all. Exercise can be achieved through traditional means (walking, going to the gym, using a stationary bike, etc.) or through Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity (VILPA). VILPA could be as simple as going up and down the stairs for 1-2 minutes, or any other activity that gets the heart rate up so you feel out of breath.

In this study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 100,000 individuals aged 40-69 collected via accelerometers .

Typically, compared to non-exercisers, people who engaged in VILPA had the equivalent of 3 bouts lasting 1-2 minutes each.

Death from any cause or from cancer was ~40% lower in the VILPA group compared with those that did not engage in any physical activity, and in fact was similar in the VILPA group with those who regularly exercise.

Take Home Message

Physical activity is key for survival. This study is not intended to state that only 5 minutes of vigorous physical activity daily is needed to achieve all of the health benefits of exercise. Rather, it shows that even 1-minute bouts of physical activity can prevent death from heart disease and cancer.

The best physical activity for each individual is one that they can stick with. If you are sedentary, consider whether you can find 3 or more bouts of 1-2 minutes a day to be active. For example, go up and down the stairs for 2 minutes each time you use the bathroom. It could add years to your lifespan!

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