Simple Ways to Boost Activity and Live Longer


Jason Sellers, MD

Did you know that adding short bursts of activity into your daily life could help you live longer? If you don’t participate in regular vigorous exercise, there are other options to stay healthy! Read more to find out about the positive health effects of staying active even when you don’t have time for regular exercise.

The CDC recommends that all Americans get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity such as jogging or running. Unfortunately many of us get much less than that, especially when work, kids, and life take over. Fortunately there’s some recent good news that your heart will love!

A study published late last year in the Nature Medicine journal found that incorporating brief bursts of vigorous physical activity into daily life, known as Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity (VILPA), can reduce the risk of mortality, whether from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or any other cause.

Really? Tell me more about how I can live longer!

The study, which analyzed data from thousands of self-proclaimed “nonexercisers” in the UK, found that participants who engaged in brief busts of physical activity for an average of 3 bouts per day (lasting 1 or 2 minutes each) had a roughly 40% lower risk of dying from any cause or from cancer, and almost 50% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. You can read more about the details here.

Basically, what that means is that people who got their hearts pumping for a few minutes each day as part of their daily routine were almost half as likely to die from cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke when compared to those who did not participate in those short bursts of daily activity.

The study also found that the benefits were similar to regular vigorous exercise. Though you should still aim to get the recommended amount of weekly exercise, these short bursts of vigorous activity may be a “next best” alternative for those of us having difficulty incorporating exercise into our daily routines.

What are some examples of things I can do?

Personally I try not to take the elevator anymore when I can avoid it! Here are some simple suggestions for incorporating brief bursts of vigorous activity into your everyday routine:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator: Climbing stairs is a great way to get your heart pumping!
  • Park further away from your destination: Walking a longer distance from your car can add extra steps to your day.
  • Carry heavy groceries: Instead of pushing a shopping cart, try carrying your groceries by hand to engage your upper body and increase your heart rate.
  • Brisk walking or biking: Make a conscious effort to walk at a brisk pace during your daily routine, such as walking to work or running errands.
  • Household chores: Activities such as vacuuming, scrubbing floors, or gardening can also provide opportunities to get your heart rate up.
  • Stand up and move: Instead of sitting for prolonged periods, make a conscious effort to stand up and move around at regular intervals.

Need more ideas?

If you need some ideas to get started, schedule an appointment with your dedicated Radish doctor to discuss further. Or chat with us to find out more. By making small changes to our daily routines, we can make a big difference in our overall health and wellbeing!

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