Now it’s here again, the Christmas season. A time to rest, recover and pause. If it weren’t for the permanent guilty conscience that you should actually do some sport so as not to neglect your physical health. But on these cold days that is even more difficult….
A new study published this month in one of the most renowned scientific journals – “Nature Medicine” – shows that everyday activities for a few minutes – made more intensive – have similar effects as daily exercise.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers compared data from 25,241 adults (average age 61.8 years, observation period 6.9 years) who do not exercise in their free time with data from 62,344 people who describe themselves as “athletes”. They obtained the data from fitness wristband records. The detailed analyses show that people who only briefly increase their intensity of daily activities have a 38% to 40% lower overall risk of death and cancer, and a 48% to 49% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
What was surprising to me was that this increase in intensity means no more than in the first 15-30 seconds of 3 times 1-2 minutes per day, increasing heart rate to 77 per cent of maximum heart rate and increasing oxygen consumption by at least 64 per cent of maximum oxygen consumption. If these 3 times 1-2 minutes bring you to a total of “only” 4.4 minutes per day, the positive effect on the health parameters measured by the scientists is just as strong as if you exercise intensively.
So, apparently, it doesn’t always have to be intensive sport. From time to time, climbing the stairs or lugging the shopping bags to the car can raise your heart rate and get you a little out of breath, which is good for your health. That’s good news for people like me who find structured physical activity – like regular fitness classes or jogging – unattractive or even impracticable. 3 x 1-2 minutes should be manageable for me too!
Literature: Stamatakis et al. Association of wearable device-measured vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity with morality. Nature Medicine. Published online December 8, 2022. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-02100-x