NOV 02, 2023 9:00 AM PDT

Tasks of Daily Living Reduce Heart Risks if Done Right

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research published in The Lancet Public Health has shown that short bouts of physical activity that are part of everyday life, such as climbing stairs or sweeping, can help prevent cardiovascular disease if the bouts are of sufficient length and intensity.

The study included over 103,000 participants in the UK Biobank who wore accelerometers on their wrists between June 2013 and December 2015. During that time period, the participants’ moderate-to-vigorous lifestyle physical activity was monitored. This physical activity was classified as short (<1 minute), medium (1 to <3 minutes and 3 to <5 minutes), and long (5 to <10 minutes). The portion of the activity that was considered vigorous intensity was also monitored. The participants were followed-up with for a mean time period of nearly 8 years, during which major adverse cardiovascular events and deaths were monitored. The goal of the study was to determine the relationship between lifestyle physical activity and cardiovascular disease or death.

The results of the study showed that the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality was significantly less for people who consistently had activity lasting at least 1–3 minutes compared to those whose activity lasted less than 1 minute. The benefits increased with longer duration of activities, regardless of the participant’s total activity levels. Higher percentages of vigorous activity in each bout of exercise were associated with lower risk, with those who had vigorous activity for at least 15% of the bout (or about 10 seconds per minute of activity) seeing the greatest benefit.

The authors of the study noted that people could potentially reduce their risk of heart disease and death by focusing on moving moderately for at least 1–3 minutes during their daily activities. Many people may not have the time or energy to incorporate structured exercise into their lives, so participating in short bouts of exercise through everyday activities may provide an accessible way to get exercise and improve overall health.

Sources: The Lancet Public Health, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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