3 minutes for a longer, healthier life
- Not everyone has the time or energy to get regular exercise
- Research shows that 3 minutes of vigorous activity can be all you need for a better health. That migth feel more achievable for most people.
- Increasing the intensity of daily activities you’re already doing might be sufficient.
Here comes good news for those of you who dislike exercising, don’t have time to exercise, have no plans to exercise, or find long exercise difficult, but would still like to have better health. Research has suggested that as little as 3 minutes short intense bursts of activity a day can be all it takes to live a longer, healthier life.
3 minutes divided into several short intervals
You might have come across the recommendation to be physically active with moderate intensity 30 minutes 5 days a week. This reduces the risk of, among other things, cardiovascular diseases. Although many people certainly want to ensure good health, setting aside 30 minutes every day can feel completely prohibitive. Between work, tasks around the house and children who have to be driven and picked up, there is not always more time left in the day. Then it can feel unfair to have the recommendations for 150 minutes of activity run over your head. You simply can’t find time for that!
But maybe you have 3-4 minutes? Then you will probably be happy to hear about the new research we came across! In December 2022, Nature Medicine (1) published a study showing that as little as 1-2 minutes of intensive activity, done 2-3 times a day can have a positive impact upon health. For example reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and various cancers.
What kind of activity counts?
This is where it gets really brilliant, you don’t have to set aside 3 minites. Bake these 1-2 minutes of intensive activity into things you do 2-3 times every day anyway. For example, on the way home from work, perhaps you can jog or run up a hill. Do you take the bus in the morning? Run for 1 minute to reach it. Get off 1 stop earlier and walk very briskly the rest of the way. Are there staircases in your home? Run up the stairs instead of walking up. Do you play with your kids in the afternoon? Make sure to play a little more vigourously for a few minutes. Do things you would do anyway, just faster and more intensively. If you do it a few times a day, then you are actually on your way!
As with all research, a single study does not conclude. Before it can be said with certainty that the findings are correct, more research is needed. However, several similar studies have been done in the past which have indicated that raising the heart rate for a few short intervals every day can be very beneficial for improving health risks. It is therefore not entirely inconceivable that this should be correct. Give it a try and let us know how you go.
- Emmanuel Stamatakis, Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani mfl.: Association of wearable device-measured vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity with mortality. Nature Medicine, 2022. DOI: 10.1038/s41591-022-02100-x