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Can short bursts of daily activity reduce cancer risk?

A new study emphasises the importance of daily activity to reduce cancer risk

A power walk or a quick run could help keep cancer at bay.
A power walk or a quick run could help keep cancer at bay. (Pixabay)

Physical activity is known to be beneficial to health and reduce the risk of heart disease, and other leading causes of death. Now, a new study shows that just four to five minutes of daily workout could reduce the risk of developing cancer.

A study, led by researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia, has found that 4.5 minutes of intense physical activity can reduce the risk of developing some cancers by 32%. The study used data from wearable devices to track the daily activity of more than 22,000 ‘non-exercisers’, according to a press statement by the University of Sydney. The participant’s health records were closely followed for about seven years. The findings were published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Also read: How 45 mins of exercise every day can help ward off cancer

The data analysis revealed that four to five minutes of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity or VILPA was linked with a significantly lower cancer risk compared to those who didn’t engage in it. Vigorous lifestyle physical activity refers to very short bursts of activity, which are usually around one minute each such as carrying a heavy shopping cart or vigorous housework, power-walking or playing high-energy games.

“VILPA is a bit like applying the principles of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to your everyday life,” said lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis in the statement. Stamatakis added that not exercising can increase the risk of developing cancers such as breast, endometrial or colon.

This new study shows that the more you move at a higher intensity every day, the lower your risk of developing cancer. Previous research such as a 2016 study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed that at least 13 types of cancer significantly dripped with regular physical activity.

“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,” Stamatakis said in the statement.

Moreover, a 2021 study found stomach cancer is the one most linked with physical inactivity. The researchers showed that although active people can develop cancer, the risk can be sufficiently reduced with daily activity. The study said that moderate exercise of at least 300 hours a week could be beneficial in warding off cancer risks.

Also read: Daily brisk walk can prevent early death, finds study

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