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You can reduce your risk of cancer with just 4.5 minutes of daily activity

Cancer continues to pose one of the greatest health challenges in the modern world, but new research brings promising news about the role of physical activity in reducing cancer risk. 

The study, conducted by the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, reveals that just a few minutes of vigorous activity done intermittently throughout the day could lead to a significant decrease in the risk of certain cancers.

Vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity

This vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (Vilpa), is not about hitting the gym or running marathons. Instead, it encompasses the high-energy tasks that many people perform as part of their daily routine. Carrying heavy shopping bags, power walking, or even engaging in vigorous housework – all these activities can count towards reducing cancer risk, according to the researchers.

Playing high energy games with children also falls into this category. It may seem like just another part of parenthood, but these short bursts of activity might also be playing a vital role in preventing the onset of cancer. The importance of this daily physical activity becomes evident when we dive into the specifics of the study’s results.

What the experts discovered 

The research suggests that doing only four-and-a-half minutes of such vigorous activity, split into one-minute bursts, could reduce the risk of cancer by 18 percent. 

Even more promising is the fact that the study found a reduction of up to 32 percent for cancers specifically linked to physical activity. These include liver, lung, kidney, gastric cardia, and myeloid leukemia – conditions for which a lack of exercise increases the risk of development.

“We know the majority of middle-aged people don’t regularly exercise, which puts them at increased cancer risk, but it’s only through the advent of wearable technology like activity trackers that we are able to look at the impact of short bursts of incidental physical activity done as part of daily living,” said study lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis.

“It’s quite remarkable to see that upping the intensity of daily tasks for as little as four to five minutes a day, done in short bursts of around one minute each, is linked to an overall reduction in cancer risk by up to 18%, and up to 32% for cancer types linked to physical activity.”

Focus of the study

To investigate, the researchers used wearable technology to monitor the activity levels of over 22,000 people who didn’t follow a regular exercise regimen. Their health records were tracked for approximately seven years to observe the occurrence of cancer. 

The findings highlighted a compelling link between as little as four minutes of Vilpa per day and a lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not engage in such activity.

The term Vilpa was coined by the researchers at the Charles Perkins Centre to describe these short, daily bursts of exercise. The concept marks an essential shift in our understanding of exercise and health, suggesting that every little bit of activity counts, even if it doesn’t come in the form of traditional exercise.

This revolutionary study, published in Jama Oncology, emphasizes the significance of incorporating more physical activity into our daily routines. 

Health benefits of exercise 

Exercise has long been recognized as one of the best preventative measures we can take for maintaining good health and preventing a variety of diseases. This includes benefits such as:

Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease by improving heart health and reducing risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.

Improved mental health 

Physical activity has been shown to help reduce symptoms in people with depression and anxiety. It can also contribute to improved mood and feelings of well-being.

Weight management

Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight or help with weight loss efforts when combined with a balanced diet.

Strengthened bones and muscles

Weight-bearing and resistance exercises can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Similarly, regular exercise can help build and maintain muscle mass and strength.

Improved sleep

Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep.

Increased lifespan

Studies have shown that regular exercise can help increase the length of your life and improve the quality of life in your later years.

Boosted immune system

Moderate, regular physical activity helps to boost the immune system and build resilience.

Improved cognitive function

Regular physical activity, particularly aerobic exercise, can have marked benefits for cognitive health. It improves memory, attention, and cognitive flexibility.

Reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes

Regular exercise can help your body use insulin more efficiently, which can help prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes.

Lower risk of certain cancers

As we saw from the recent study from the Charles Perkins Centre, regular physical activity, even in the form of short bursts of vigorous activities, can significantly lower the risk of certain types of cancer.


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