To live longer, pick up the pace just three minutes a day, study shows

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Hurry to the bus stop. Run up the stairs. Play tag with your kids. Making love to the dog. Vacuum the living room with a little extra action. Increasing the vitality and enjoyment of our daily activities can have a significant impact on our longevity, according to a fascinating new study on activity intensity and mortality.

The study finds that vigorous daily activity in as little as three minutes a day is linked to a 40 percent lower risk of premature death in adults, even if they don’t exercise otherwise.

“This is great research,” said Ulrik Wisloff, director of the KG Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. He studied activity and longevity extensively but was not involved in the new study.

The results of the study are combined with growing scientific evidence that adding some intensity to our lives without the need for extra equipment, instruction, gym membership or time has huge benefits for our health.

Quick scientific exercise you can do almost anywhere

The idea that how we act affects how long we live is hardly new. Many studies, including official public health exercise guidelines that recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for health and longevity, link regular exercise to longer lifespans.

However, more focused research suggests that intensifying some of our exercise — getting our heart rate and breathing elevated — increases health benefits. For example, in a large 2006 study in Wisloff’s lab, just 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per week cut the risk of dying from heart disease by about half in men and women compared to sedentary people. Similarly, a study published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that people who occasionally push themselves during exercise are about 17 percent less likely to die prematurely than other people who do the same amount of exercise but do it at a gentler, moderate pace.

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However, both of these studies and similar past research relied on people’s subjective recollections of how much and how hard they exercised. It was also exercise work, which is of interest to people who mostly exercise or want to do them, which is not representative of much of humanity.

“To be honest, most people are allergic to the word ‘exercise’,” said Emmanuel Stamatakis, professor of physical activity and health studies at the University of Sydney in Australia, who led the new study.

Health benefits of rushed chores and chasing toddlers

Adopting this stance, he and his colleagues have recently begun to wonder about the implications of non-exercise activities—common tasks and movements that make up an important part of our day but are not exercise. Would it make a difference for human health if these activities were completed faster, harder and with a little more enthusiasm?

To find out, the researchers turned to extensive data stored in the UK Biobank, which includes the health records of hundreds of thousands of British men and women, many of whom wore accelerometers for a week after joining Biobank to track their daily movements. The scientists pulled records of 25,241 of these adults, ages 40 to 69, who told the researchers they never exercised.

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The scientists then began to analyze their daily activities in detail, determining the intensity of their movements almost second-to-second based on their stride rate and other data. Stamatakis said the analysis consumed three months of constant computer time.

But in the end, the researchers were able to map participants’ short bursts of movement, such as when someone was running to a train or chasing after a toddler. These physical jumps can last as little as a minute.

But they were important to mortality. Comparing activity patterns for about seven years after people joined Biobank with death records, the scientists found that men and women who did an average of 4.4 minutes of physical activity per day, which scientists call vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity, were about 30 percent less likely to have it. they found it. in any way seldom died than those who moved fast.

How can sitting all day cause health problems even if you exercise?

Just act with pleasure a few times a day

Spreading these short bursts of activity increased the benefits. When people accomplished at least three separate quick-action moves in a day, each lasting as little as one minute, their risk of death was reduced by 40 percent compared to people who didn’t rush at all. They didn’t exercise. They increased the pace of something they did at least three times a day.

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Finally, the researchers performed a similar analysis of data for 62,344 men and women in Biobank who exercised mostly at moderate pace. When these people were able to do a few more minutes of more intense activity most days, whether during their workouts or chores, their risk of death was lower than if they did exercise, but it wasn’t nearly as hard.

“There’s something about density,” Stamatakis said.

Stamatakis continued to move so hard and fast that it felt impossible to talk, to reinforce your own activities. Try to reach that level of breathlessness three or four times a day for a minute or two, preferably doing something you still need to do.

However, this study has limitations. While other research has shown that strenuous exercise improves endurance and cardiovascular health more than lighter exercise, it’s correlated, only showing an association between quick bursts of effort and our lifespan, and doesn’t tell us why intensity is important, Stamatakis said.

He concluded that rushing our chores now can save us time years from now.

Got a fitness question? Email [email protected] and we can answer your question in a future column.

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