You can live longer by exercising only one minute at a time, research claims

Vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (VILPA) could significantly reduce risk of heart disease and cancer mortality

Young fashionable woman with curly hair walking on the street and listening to the music
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With new year's eve just around the corner, many people will start thinking about exercising more. And while it's beneficial to exercise more to lose weight and improve health, recent research from the University of Sydney claims you can significantly reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality by doing only 1-minute bursts of exercise a few times a day.

Researchers observed over 25,000 'non-exercisers' (mean age 61.8 years, 14,178 women/11,063 men) for an average of 6.9 years to find that brief bursts of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (VILPA) were associated with 38%-40% reduction in all-cause and cancer mortality risk and a 48%-49% reduction in CVD mortality risk.

"Moreover, the sample median VILPA duration of 4.4 min per day was associated with a 26%-30% reduction in all-cause and cancer mortality risk and a 32%-34% reduction in CVD mortality risk", the study adds, meaning that only four sessions of one minute-long exercise sessions are enough to help you potentially live longer And we thought HIIT was the most time efficient workout mode to improve cardiovascular fitness.

Athlete jogging along the banks of the River Thames early in the morning, while listening to music on her smartphone or music player

Running after the bus can help you live longer

(Image credit: Getty images)

VILPA can be any activity that elevates the heart rate, such as running up the stairs or brisk walking to catch the train. "Upping the intensity of daily activities requires no time commitment, no preparation, no club memberships, no special skills", Emmanuel Stamatakis, lead author of the paper and Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Population Health at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre, told ScienceDaily, "It simply involves stepping up the pace while walking or doing the housework with a bit more energy."

Interestingly, researchers used wearable data to "capture unexplored movement patterns", the paper says. The best Fitbits and many of the best fitness trackers are famous for monitoring and recording said movement patterns, even if users don't log them as workouts; Fitbit's Active Zone Minutes feature is built around this concept.

We'd recommend exercising for longer if you want to lose weight or build muscle; however, four minutes a day might be enough to prolong your life, and we hope that even lazy people agree that doesn't sound like too much effort for a lot of gains. You can read the research paper titled "Association of wearable device-measured vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity with mortality" here.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.