Short, daily activities that make you breathe—like playing high-energy games with kids—could help lower your risk of cancer, research has found.
According to the study, as little as four and a half minutes of intense physical activity — spaced about one minute apart — during daily tasks could reduce overall cancer risk by 18 percent and the risk of some cancers, including cancers associated with physical activity, by up to 32 percent.
Other activities might include strenuous housework, carrying heavy groceries to the grocery store, or long walks.
Lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, from the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney, Australia, said: “We know that the majority of middle-aged people do not exercise regularly, putting them at increased risk of cancer, but that only happens during the Advent season.” Wearable technologies like activity trackers allow us to study the effects of brief, random physical activities in everyday life.
“It’s quite remarkable to see that increasing the intensity of daily tasks by just four to five minutes a day, done in short bursts of about a minute each, is associated with an overall reduction in cancer risk of up to 18 percent.” and up to 32 percent in cancers associated with physical activity.”
Cancers associated with physical activity are those in which not exercising increases the risk of the disease.
Cancers associated with physical activity have included liver, lung, kidney, gastric cardia (a type of stomach cancer), endometrial, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, colon, head and neck, bladder, breast, and esophageal adenocarcinoma (esophageal cancer). ).
The study, published in Jama Oncology, used data from wearable devices to track the daily activity of more than 22,000 non-exercise people.
The researchers then followed the group’s clinical health records for nearly seven years to monitor them for cancer.
They found that just four to five minutes of vigorous, intermittent physical activity (Vilpa) was associated with a significantly lower risk of cancer than those not taking Vilpa.
Vilpa was coined by researchers at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Center to describe the very short bursts of activity – about a minute each – that we enthusiastically engage in every day.
Prof Stamatakis said, “Vilpa is a bit like applying the principles of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to everyday life.”
He added that adults who don’t exercise have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as breast, endometrial or colon cancer.
But until recently, experts were unable to measure the effects of less structured forms of intense physical activity.
In the study sample of 22,398 people with a median age of 62 years who did not exercise recreationally, the researchers found 2,356 new cancer cases (1,084 for physical activity-related cancer) over a median follow-up of 6.7 years.
They found that daily intake of at least about 3.5 minutes of Vilpa was associated with a reduction in cancer incidence of up to 18% compared to no Vilpa, while 4.5 minutes of daily intake of Vilpa was associated with a reduction in cancer risk of up to 32% associated with physical activity.
The researchers used data from the UK Biobank Accelerometry Sub Study and only included people who reported not engaging in recreational activities and not taking regular recreational walks.