Dr's Casebook: Just increasing the vigour of daily activities by under five minutes is protective against some cancers
Dr Keith Souter writes: Recent research has shown that just making yourself huff and puff a bit during your normal daily tasks for four and a half minutes a day can reduce the risk of some cancers by up to 32 per cent.
This international study has just been published in the journal JAMA Oncology. They did this using data collected from wearable wrist tracking devices which tracked the daily activity of over 22,000 ‘non-exercisers’. For a whole week at the start of the study they wore the wrist monitor. This is consistent with other wearable monitor studies as physical activity levels remain relatively stable over adulthood. They then followed up the health history of those individuals for seven years, specifically to monitor for cancers.
Significantly they found that as little as four to five minutes of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity, which is termed VILPA, was associated with a substantially lower cancer risk compared to those who undertook no VILPA.
Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity, or VILPA is a term used to describe very short bursts of activity of just about one minute each during daily tasks.
That doesn’t mean running, going to the gym or doing press-ups. It merely means vigorous housework, carrying heavy shopping, vigorous sweeping or gardening or bursts of faster walking. Just for a minute at a time.
It is known that adults who do no exercise are at greater risk of some cancers, including breast, colon and endometrial cancer.
The average age of participants at the entry to the trial was 62 years of age.
They found that those who indulged in VILPA for just three and a half minutes a day had a reduced risk of cancers of eighteen per cent. Those who indulged for between four and five minutes had a 32 per cent decrease in risk.
So, if you don’t want to start exercising, just aim at being more vigorous in daily tasks for a minute at a time, four or five times a day.