July 27, 2023

Vigorous intermittent physical activity lowers cancer risk

Editor's Note

This prospective multi-institutional, multi-country study led by researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia, finds that as few as 4 to 5 minutes of vigorous intermittent physical activity (VILPA) daily is associated with a substantially lower cancer risk. VILPA refers to brief and sporadic (eg, up to 1 to 2 minutes) bouts of vigorous physical activity during daily living (eg, burst of very fast walking or stair climbing).

A total of 22,398 nonexercising adults were included in the analysis.

The researchers found inverse associations of modest VILPA amounts with total cancer rates, and a more pronounced association with physical-activity related cancers (eg, breast and colon cancers).

Steeper risk reductions occurred at VILPA of up to 4 to 5 minutes per day, and there were continuing gains with higher daily amounts.

A minimum of 3.4 to 3.6 minutes of VILPA per day was associated with a 17% to 18% reduction in total incident cancer risk.

A median of 4 to 5 minutes of VILPA per day was associated with a 31% to 32% reduction in physical-activity related cancer incidence.

The researchers concluded that daily VILPA may be a promising intervention for cancer prevention in those not able or motivated to exercise in their leisure time.


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