The challenge of regular exercise
One hundred and fifty minutes of working out weekly can seem daunting if you’re not in the exercise habit (as is the case for 80 percent of adults over age 40), but new data challenges the popular notion that better health necessitates lengthy, perspiration-inducing programs.
A new study on daily physical activity
A recent study tracked the daily physical activity of more than 22,000 people ages 40 to 69 for nearly seven years. The goal? To determine if very short stretches of exertion, like those that occur sporadically as part of daily living (climbing the stairs or carrying groceries, for example), held any sway over a person’s health.
The researchers refer to such quick bursts of movement as VILPA, which stands for vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity. They discovered that non-exercisers who engage in just a few minutes of VILPA every day can dramatically reduce their risk of premature death. When performed three to five times daily, these one-minute bouts of incidental activity were associated with a decrease in cardiovascular disease-related death as great as 49 percent, as well as a 32-percent reduction in cancer incidence.
Exercise and cancer prevention
There are as many as 15 cancers related to a sedentary lifestyle, including breast, colon and endometrial cancers. Medical oncologist and hematologist Dr. Gene Saylors regularly talks with patients about the importance of exercise. The Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated doctor believes that the trial’s results offer more ways to encourage movement, especially in those not accustomed to regular exercise.
“You don’t have to pay for a gym membership or dedicate an hour of your day to working out. Just speed up your walk or go play with the kids in the yard.” Dr. Saylors recommends rethinking small pockets of idle time, such as when you’re waiting for the shower to heat up or the microwave to beep. “In small intervals, everyone has time for physical activity.”
Practical ways to VILPA
- Park at the end of the lot and power walk to your destination.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Jog to a neighbor’s house.
- Give your child a piggyback ride.
- Do arm curls while putting away heavy groceries.
- Swiftly vacuum the floor with exaggerated motions.
- Play chase with a pup.
- Dance to a favorite song.
- Do squats while brushing your teeth.
- Perform jumping jacks or wall push-ups while on hold.
- Carry a laundry basket up and down the stairs
Inspired by the power of VILPA? Don’t wait. Discuss with your primary care doctor how to tailor these short bursts of activity to your lifestyle. If you don’t have a doctor, you can find one here or call (843) 402-CARE.