When you have a million and one things on your to-do list, exercise is usually the first thing to go. But according to a new study, you can take ‘too busy’ off your list of excuses not to work out.
The two-part study, authored by Matthew N. Ahmadi, a research fellow at the University of Sydney, Australia, found that a mere two-minute burst of high-intensity exercise daily for 15 minutes total a week could decrease your risk of dying by as much as 18 percent.
Plus, increasing the intensity lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, suggests the second segment of the study, which was published in the European Heart Journal (1).
What Did the Research Show?
The two-part study tracked healthy adults between 40 and 69 years old. All participants wore a fitness tracker for an average of 6.9 years, from which researchers observed their weekly levels of vigorous activity and the frequency of exercise bouts lasting two minutes or less.
The first study followed 71,893 healthy men and women. Researchers found as both the volume and frequency of vigorous activity increased, the risk of all-cause mortality, heart disease, and cancer went down.
Health benefits were noted with even a small amount of vigorous exercise. For example, participants who didn’t exercise vigorously had a four-percent risk of dying within five years. That risk was slashed in half with less than 10 minutes of weekly vigorous activity and fell to one percent with 60 minutes of vigorous exercise or more.
“The results indicate that accumulating vigorous activity in short bouts across the week can help us live longer,” says Ahmadi. “Given that lack of time is the most commonly reported barrier to physical activity, accruing small amounts sporadically during the day may be a particularly attractive option for busy people.”
The second study analyzed over 88,000 healthy men and women. Researchers found that both higher amounts and greater intensity of physical activity were linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
Plus, increasing the intensity for the same volume resulted in greater reductions. For example, a simple switch of turning a 14-minute stroll into a brisk seven-minute walk led to a 14 percent lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
“Our study shows that it’s not just the amount of activity, but also the intensity that is important for cardiovascular health,” says study co-author Paddy C. Dempsey. “This indicates boosting activities you already do is good for heart health. For example, picking up the pace on your daily walk to the bus stop or completing household chores more quickly.”